Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Why It Is Done
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is done for many reasons. It is used to find problems such as tumors, bleeding, injury, blood vessel diseases, or infection. MRI also may be done to provide more information about a problem seen on an X-ray, ultrasound scan, or CT scan. Contrast material may be used during MRI to show abnormal tissue more clearly. An MRI scan can be done for the:
- Head. MRI can look at the brain for tumors, an Reference aneurysm Opens New Window, bleeding in the brain, nerve injury, and other problems, such as damage caused by a Reference stroke Opens New Window. MRI can also find problems of the eyes and Reference optic nerves Opens New Window, and the ears and Reference auditory nerves Opens New Window.
- Chest. MRI of the chest can look at the heart, the valves, and Reference coronary blood vessels Opens New Window. It can show if the heart or lungs are damaged. MRI of the chest may also be used to look for Reference breast Opens New Window or Reference lung cancer Opens New Window.
- Blood vessels. Using MRI to look at blood vessels and the flow of blood through them is called Reference magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) Opens New Window. It can find problems of the arteries and veins, such as an aneurysm, a blocked blood vessel, or the torn lining of a blood vessel (dissection). Sometimes contrast material is used to see the blood vessels more clearly.
- Abdomen and pelvis. MRI can find problems in the organs and structures in the belly, such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder. It is used to find tumors, bleeding, infection, and blockage. In women, it can look at the uterus and ovaries. In men, it looks at the prostate.
- Bones and joints. MRI can check for problems of the bones and joints, such as Reference arthritis Opens New Window, problems with the Reference temporomandibular joint Opens New Window, Reference bone marrow Opens New Window problems, bone tumors, Reference cartilage Opens New Window problems, torn Reference ligaments Opens New Window or Reference tendons Opens New Window, or infection. MRI may also be used to tell if a bone is broken when X-ray results are not clear. MRI is done more commonly than other tests to check for some bone and joint problems.
- Spine. MRI can check the discs and nerves of the spine for conditions such as Reference spinal stenosis Opens New Window, Reference disc Opens New Window bulges, and Reference spinal tumors Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 16, 2011|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Howard Schaff, MD - Diagnostic Radiology