MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)

MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, can obtain high-quality images of virtually any structure within the body without ionizing radiation. MR has many applications in musculoskeletal, cardiac, breast and body imaging and neuroradiology. 

The UofL Physicians – Radiology team has the most advanced and effective MRI equipment in the field, and as MRI technology is continuously evolving and improving, there can be significant difference in MRIs. That makes it important for patients to choose the right place to go for their exam.

MRIs are highly sophisticated exams requiring longer acquisition times, but they provide more diagnostic information, and oftentimes, a more definitive diagnosis. It is important to realize not all MRIs are the same. Obtaining high-quality and diagnostic images depends on the type of scanner, the protocol from the radiologist, scan parameters and the knowledge and expertise of the technologists and interpreting radiologists.

While some patients might choose an “open” MRI center to avoid feeling claustrophobic, those machines are usually not as effective as a “closed” magnet, and “closed” machines really aren’t closed at all. You might think of it as watching high-definition television compared with traditional TV.  At UofL Physicians, we have a MRI scanner tailored for claustrophobic patients that still provides high-quality diagnostic images.

One of the advantages of MRI is that, unlike X-rays and CT scans, there is no ionizing radiation. MRI also can provide more information with various sequences that allow better soft tissue discrimination.

While intravenous contrast is often used with MRI to provide more diagnostic information, the gadolinium-based contrast used for MR exams is different from the iodinated contrast required for CT scans. This can be important when choosing which test - usually CT, ultrasound or MRI - would be best if you have underlying kidney disease or prior contrast reactions.

Also available from UofL Physicians – Radiology are advanced MRI applications, including MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) for imaging of blood vessels; MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) for imaging the biliary tree; MRS (magnetic resonance spectroscopy) for evaluation of tissue composition; DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) for assessment of the white matter and spinal tracts in the brain; and functional MRI for evaluation of brain activity.