What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI for short, is a powerful medical tool that provides detailed images of the inner workings of the human body. It operates using a combination of strong magnets and special radio waves.

Unlike other imaging methods that use potentially harmful X-rays, the MRI doesn’t involve any radiation exposure. Instead, it uses the signals emitted by the body’s particles. These signals are transformed into intricate images by a sophisticated computer system.

Using an MRI enables doctors to diagnose conditions accurately and design effective treatment strategies for better patient care.

Why is an MRI done?

MRI for Brain and Spine:

  • Frequently used for brain and spine checks.
  • Helps diagnose aneurysms, eye problems, strokes, and more.
  • Special fMRI shows blood flow in the brain.
  • Useful for planning brain surgery and checking for damage.

MRI for Organs:

Detects problems in organs like liver, kidneys, and more.

Acts like a detective to find tumors and other issues.

MRI for Bones and Joints:

  • Helps find injuries like torn ligaments and bone infections.
  • Detects issues in spine disks and tumors.

How to Prepare for a MRI exam

Before you have an MRI test, eat your regular meals and keep taking your usual medicines, unless instructed otherwise.

Usually, you’ll need to put on a gown and remove anything that could mess up the magnetic pictures. This includes things like:

  • Jewelry
  • Hairpins
  • Eyeglasses
  • Watches
  • Wigs
  • Dentures
  • Hearing aids
  • Bras with underwire
  • Makeup with metal bits

What to Expect During a MRI

  • The MRI machine looks like a long tube with openings at both ends. You lie on a table that slides into the tube, while a technologist watches you from another room through a microphone.
  • If you experience claustrophobia or fear of enclosed spaces, you might receive a sleep medicine to help you relax. Most people complete the exam without problems.
  • Inside the tube, a strong magnetic field and radio waves work together to create images. This doesn’t hurt, and there are no moving parts around you. During the scan, there are tapping and thumping noises, but you can wear earplugs or listen to music to block them.
  • Sometimes, a contrast material called gadolinium is injected through a vein in your hand or arm. This makes specific details clearer. Allergic reactions to gadolinium are rare.
  • The MRI can last 15 minutes to over an hour. It’s important to stay still to avoid blurry images.
  • For a functional MRI, you might do small tasks like tapping your fingers. This helps find the parts of your brain that control these actions.

What is the Difference Between MRI and CT Scans?


  • Uses magnets and radio waves to take pictures.
  • Shows very detailed images of soft tissues like organs and muscles.
  • No X-rays are used, which is safer for children.
  • Takes longer, and you need to hold still.

CT Scan (Computed Tomography):

  • Uses X-rays to make images.
  • Good for bones and organs like the brain.
  • Quicker but uses some X-rays, which might need protection.
  • Might be used when doctors need a faster look.

Our MRI Location

Franklin County Medical Center
44 N 1st E, Preston, ID 83263
Open 24/7
Laboratory Hours: Monday – Friday: 7:00 am – 5:30 pm 
Radiology Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:00 am-6:00 pm 
(208) 852-0137


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