Because medicine is advancing rapidly, doctors have several modern devices at their disposal that make it easier to diagnose a patient. A short examination is enough; they can reveal what is happening inside a person without ” opening it with a scalpel.”

What seemed impossible a couple of hundred years ago, today, we take it for granted. If in the past doctors could only assume based on symptoms that a malignant tumor was hiding in a person’s head and based on this they decided to operate and “find” cancer, today they first confirm its existence and exact location through an examination and only then “open” the person.

Various imaging units have become a standard examination process for diagnosing simple and more complex diseases. Among the most challenging imaging methods is magnetic resonance, which accurately displays the structures and organs of the human body in individual planes.

How does magnetic resonance imaging work?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging technology that creates three-dimensional detailed anatomical images. It is often used for disease detection, diagnosis, and treatment monitoring. It is based on a sophisticated technology that excites and detects a change in the direction of the rotation axis of protons found in the water that forms living tissues.

Unlike other imaging units, magnetic resonance is not an X-ray but a magnet exposed to electrical waves during the examination.

During the examination, the device detects the energy intensity of hydrogen protons during electrical wave stimulation in individual body structures. Based on them, the computer creates a three- or two-dimensional display, while each system has an assigned color interpretation.

Although this description may sound ominous, the examination is entirely painless.

The course of magnetic resonance examination

Magnetic resonance is used to examine any part of the body, according to the request of the referring doctor. The duration of the examination depends on the part of the body  being examined. It ranges from 15 to 45 minutes.  Before the test, the patient should not eat for at least two hours. When looking at a specific part of the body, a special diet or drinking regime may be required a day in advance, which you will be informed about when you make an appointment for the examination, if necessary.

Before entering the examination workplace, the patient will put away his belongings, metal objects, jewelry, or some of his clothing in the cabin if the examination requires it.

During the examination, the patient lies on a mat. Some body parts may be attached with special aids, as it is essential to lie motionless. Otherwise, the images may need better quality, and the examination must be repeated.

The magnets the device uses emit unpleasant sounds, so the patient receives headphones with music to make them more comfortable. The examination is not associated with pain, but it is associated with an unpleasant feeling for many people. So the best way to endure the test without discomfort is to keep your eyes closed and concentrate on the music. But don’t worry. You will also receive a balloon in your hand, which is used to alert the staff in case you feel nausea during the examination.

MRIs use powerful magnets that create a strong magnetic field that forces protons in the body to align with that field. When radiofrequency current is then pulsed through the patient, the protons are stimulated and thrown out of balance, straining against the pull of the magnetic field. When the radio frequency field is turned off, the MRI sensors can detect the energy released when the protons align with the magnetic field. The time required for the protons to realign with the magnetic field and the amount of energy released varies depending on the environment and the chemical nature of the molecules. Based on these magnetic properties, doctors can tell the difference between different tissue types.

Contraindications of magnetic resonance

Although the magnetic resonance examination is safe, several contraindications can cause problems or make it impossible to perform. The referring doctor fills in all possible contraindications in the application form, so answer his questions honestly.

Most patients with an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator cannot undergo the examination. Therefore, only patients with an implanted so-called new generation pacemaker, in this case, confirmation of compatibility from the operator, is required.

Leads left after the removal of a pacemaker, vascular clamps, electronic implants, joint replacements, and dental implants less than six weeks after implantation can also be dangerous. Still, most of these devices are now manufactured compatible, so again, confirmation of compatibility would be crucial in this case aids.

Magnetic resonance imaging is a popular examination that safely and painlessly helps doctors discover the processes inside the body. It is used to examine the brain, spine, joints, bile ducts, blood vessels, pelvic organs, and many other body parts, as the referring physician needs.

To obtain an MRI image, the patient is placed inside a large magnet and must remain very still during the imaging process so that the image does not blur. Contrast agents (often containing the element gadolinium) may be given intravenously to the patient before or during the MRI to increase the rate at which the protons line up with the magnetic field. The faster the protons rearrange, the more precise the image.

What is an MRI used for?

MRI scanners are particularly suitable for imaging the body’s non-bony parts or soft tissues. They differ from computed tomography (CT) because they do not use harmful ionizing X-ray radiation. As a result, the brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons are visible much more clearly on MRI than on conventional X-rays and CT scans; for this reason, MRI is often used to image knee and shoulder injuries.

MRI can differentiate between white matter and gray matter in the brain and diagnose aneurysms and tumors. Because MRI does not use X-rays or other radiation, it is the imaging modality of choice when frequent imaging, particularly of the brain, is needed for diagnosis or therapy. However, MRI is more expensive than X-ray imaging or CT scanning.

One type of specialized MRI is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). It is used to observe brain structures and determine which areas of the brain become “activated” (use more oxygen) during various cognitive tasks. It improves understanding of brain organization and offers a potential new standard for assessing neurological status and neurosurgical risk.

Are there risks?

Although MRI does not emit the ionizing radiation found in X-ray and CT imaging, it uses a strong magnetic field. The magnetic field extends beyond the machine and exerts strong forces on iron objects, some steel, and other magnetizable objects; he is strong enough to push a wheelchair across the room. Patients should inform their doctors about any form of medication or implant before an MRI scan.

MRI image of the upper body and head of a person

The following must be taken into account during the magnetic resonance examination:

People with implants, especially those containing iron, — pacemakers, vagus nerve stimulators, implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, loop recorders, insulin pumps, cochlear implants, deep brain stimulators, and capsule endoscopy capsules, should not enter the MRI machine.

Noise: Loud noise, commonly called clicking and beeping, and the sound intensity of up to 120 decibels in some MR scanners may require special hearing protection.

Nerve stimulation – a twitching sensation sometimes results from rapidly switching fields on an MRI.

Contrast agents – Patients with severe kidney failure who need dialysis may be at risk for a rare but serious condition called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, which may be associated with using specific gadolinium-containing agents such as gadodiamide and others. Although a causal link has not been established, current guidelines in the United States recommend that dialysis patients receive gadolinium only when necessary and that dialysis be performed as soon as possible after the scan to remove the substance from the body rapidly.

Pregnancy – although no effects on the fetus have been demonstrated, it is recommended to avoid MRI scans as a precaution, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, when fetal organs are forming and contrast agents, if used, could enter the fetal bloodstream.

Why undergo an MRI in  Turkey?

In Turkey, the possibility of getting an MRI examination is straightforward, waiting times are short, so the patient does not have to wait weeks or months.