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MRIs improve health outcomes and save lives

Unlike traditional MRI machines, an open MRI looks more like a donut, with magnets above and below the patient and open sides that allow for more comfort. Photo: Pexels

(Tina Dawn/ VM Med Clinic) — Whether following up on a stress fracture on your shoulder or a routine breast cancer screening there are few medical tests that are as useful, as safe, and offering as many wide-ranging benefits for disease detection and diagnosis, as Magnetic Resonance Imaging. They are commonly known to most people as an MRI.

The test uses powerful magnets and radio waves, and the help of a computer, to allow medical specialists to see detailed three-dimensional images of the inside of a patient’s body. The best part about these detailed exams is that they are non-invasive. MRIs are particularly useful for looking at people’s nervous systems, organs, bones and soft tissues inside your body. They are also less damaging than CT-Scans or X-rays, which emit radiation.

Painless and safe

MRIs are painless and almost always accessible to most patients, unless you wear a cochlear ear transplant or any type of heart defibrillator or pacemaker. While the machines are known to make noise, the test itself is comfortable and one with no side effects.

Some people with mild claustrophobia may have issues with sitting still in an enclosed chamber-like space. For those patients, a mild sedative can be given. In most cases, being informed of what to expect beforehand or listening to soothing music via earplugs can be enough to calm the patient down.

Open MRIs offer an alternative

Open MRIs are slightly different. Unlike traditional MRI machines, an open MRI looks more like a donut, with magnets above and below the patient and open sides that allow for more comfort for people who may not be able to handle small, enclosed spaces or for patients who may be too big to fit properly in a traditional MRI machine.

They are also useful for children because a parent can be there to hold their hand while they are in the scanner. This allows them to remain calm and unlikely to move, therefore reducing the need for another scan. In the past, open MRIs used to be less accurate and the images taken not as precise, but as technology improves open MRIs are producing highly accurate images.

MRIs have multiple uses

As a result of how thorough magnetic resonance images are, they are routinely used for cancer detection and treatment. An MRI can show if there’s a change in the shape or mass of internal organs or tissue. It can detect whether a mass or tumour is benign or cancerous. It can also indicate whether treatment is working and if a tumour is shrinking, or whether metastasis has occurred and whether cancer has spread in other parts of the body. It is a valuable tool for medical specialists to plan a proper and well-informed course of medical treatment.

Recently, medical scientists have also started using MRIs to see a possible connection between the brain’s structure and activity and psychological traits, like cognitive ability or mental-health conditions. A recent article in The New York Times discussed how “such so-called brain-wide association studies could yield incredibly valuable insights. Knowing that a particular neurological feature makes someone more vulnerable to autism, Alzheimer’s or another disorder, for example, could help predict, prevent or treat that condition.”

MRIs save lives

Magnetic Resonance Imaging is so important and so useful to medical practitioners and the quick and accurate diagnoses they can make that portable MRI machines have recently been introduced as part of a doctors’ or clinics’ arsenal in remote areas. Allowing these portable scans by a patients’ bedside or on an ambulance can greatly reduce the risk of death for stroke patients who experience bleeding in the brain.

Ultimately, MRIs save lives.

VM Med MRI clinic

VM Med offers the most comprehensive medical imaging services in downtown Montreal with its MRI private clinic. Patients benefit from unparalleled service, with on-site access to all imaging modalities and our multidisciplinary team of physicians.

Our MRI with an open bore (wide opening) offers patients a calmer, more open experience than is available from traditional MRI machines. By greatly lessening the feeling of constriction that comes with exams in traditional MRI machines, our open bore MRI is suitable for claustrophobic patients. An appointment and a requisition are required for this type of exam.