What Is An MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures inside your body.

Your doctor can use this test to diagnose you or to see how well you’ve responded to treatment. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, an MRI doesn’t use radiation.

What are MRI scans used for?

The development of the MRI scan represents a huge milestone for the medical world, as doctors, scientists, and researchers are now able to examine the inside of the human body accurately using a non-invasive tool.

The following are just some of the examples where an MRI scanner is used:

  • Abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord
  • Tumors, cysts, and other abnormalities in various parts of the body
  • Injuries or abnormalities of the joints, such as back pain
  • Certain types of heart problems
  • Diseases of the liver and other abdominal organs
  • Causes of pelvic pain in women (e.g. fibroids, endometriosis)
  • Suspected uterine abnormalities in women undergoing evaluation for infertility



The images from an MRI scan offer better contrast than traditional X-ray or CT scans because MRI’s make it easier to distinguish between different tissues and organs of the body. X-rays are unable to show bodily tissues and organs clearly. Neither images from a CT scan or X-ray are able to distinguish between normal and abnormal tissue; and both require harmful iodizing radiation that MRI scans do not. Patients can receive a MRI scan without risk or any side effects and this type of scan may be best for patients who will need several scans within a short period of time. Determining the type of scan that is best for you depends on the area your doctor is interested in.

If a patient has any metal inside of their body like cochlear implants, insulin pumps, loop recorders, or shrapnel fragments, MRI scans may not be the best choice. An MRI machine will cause all metal objects to become hot and possibly malfunction while the patient is being scanned. The reaction to metal is so strong that nothing metal may enter the MRI Room during the scan. For patients with permanent metal implants, an MRI may not be considered a safe option.