Why Do I Need An MRI?

Has your doctor ordered an MRI? You may be wondering why that particular test, over some other scan, like an x-ray or a CAT scan.

Magnetic resonance imaging gives an amazing view inside the human body. No other kind of imaging can give the high level of detail that an MRI can. The MRI scanner can take different pictures depending on what your doctor is looking for. MRI systems can even take pictures of blood flowing through the body! If your doctor needs detailed pictures of soft tissue like muscles, nerves, and even your brain, an MRI is the way to go.

The only way to get a better look inside your body would be for your doctor to perform surgery and physically look at the problem area!

So why might your doctor suggest an MRI?

  • To diagnose brain tumors
  • To uncover infections in the brain, spine, or joints
  • To diagnose multiple sclerosis
  • To get a clear look at torn ligaments in the legs or arms
  • To get a clear look at shoulder injuries
  • To investigate masses in the soft tissues
  • To investigate abnormalities in the spine, like disc problems, cysts, or bone tumors
  • To get a clear look at shoulder or knee injuries

An MRI scan can even diagnose a stroke in its earliest stages! My grandmother’s doctors have asked her to get an MRI to investigate memory issues and possible nerve damage in her neck.

An MRI has many advantages over other tests:

  • No ionizing radiation is used in the testing
  • Contrast materials, when used, have few side effects
  • Images can be taken in a variety of planes and directions (a CAT scan is limited to only one plane)

An MRI may seem like an intimidating test. But your doctor has asked for the scan for a reason. Look into an open MRI (rather than a traditional closed MRI) if claustrophobia is holding you back. Call your local imaging center and ask if they give tours; seeing things up close and in person may help ease your nerves.