Amy Price, PhD wrote the following article about changes in MRI technology.
MRIs have gone through a lot of changes and improvements in the last few years. A first class radiologist is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis but great equipment helps too. People ask us at SIF how can I know that my radiologist does quality work? The best way is to ask who others consider the best. Ask at your Doctors, at physiotherapy and at the hospital. Soon you will find some names come up over and over again. It is important to find out what kind of MRIs they are best at reading. Some specialize in the brain, tumors, or spines. all radiologists are not considered equal so choose with care!
Before you agree to an MRI it is good to find out who will be explaining the results and the technical terms in your report to you. At SIF we get multiple requests to explain results of MRIs. We can not help with this as an MRI is only a part of the picture, diagnostics are made in conjunction with detailed physical examinations and patient/physician consultation. If you come across an unusual term in your MRI you can try the Read My MRI feature in the members section of SIF
MRI machines work with magnets and the strength is measured by Tesla. The Tesla strength can vary anywhere from .046 to 8 Tesla. Before you book an MRI ask what the strength is of the machine they will use for your scan. The strongest Tesla in common use outside of research settings is a 3 Tesla. The stronger the Tesla the clearer the image. Large herniations can be seen with an .02 Tesla. Using a 3 Tesla even ligament damage is quite visible. Click here It used to be thought that 7-8 Teslas would not be safe for patients because of the radio frequency but these fears proved groundless click here and this Tesla strength is used for revealing vascular structure and for detailed brain scans.
MRIs can be with or without contrast. A contrast MRI makes it easier for the diagnostician to see scar tissue that may have formed because of the injury. The contrast is a small amount of water soluble dye that is injected at the time of your MRI.
MRIs can be static or functional (fMRI) fMRIs measure function. Oxford University has an interesting and informative site detailing how fMRI works and the strengths and perceived weakness of this approach.
Technology combining MEG (measures brain’s electrical activity) and fMRI are bringing hope for treatment in previously uncharted territory Click here Software can convert images into 3D.
Stand Up MRIs are thought to show structural patterns more clearly and can signpost where a client is feeling pressure. Some ligament damage can also be shown more accurately with the stand up MRI.
A new and promising technology is on the horizon to reduce MRI costs and also create a machine that can be used for those with metal implants or even to assist in surgery!