MRI: Why is it Done?


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Abdomen
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the abdomen is used to:

  • Detect diseases of the liver (such as a tumour). In some cases, in can help a doctor determine whether a tumour is non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).
  • Evaluate lower abdominal and pelvic organs (such as the uterus) for masses, bleeding, or problems present since birth (congenital abnormalities).
  • Assess organs and blood vessels prior to organ transplantation.
  • Detect blockages or stones in the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder (bile ducts).

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is used to detect:

  • A bulge (aneurysm), clot, or the buildup of fat and calcium deposits (plaque) in the blood vessels leading to the brain.
  • Narrowing (stenosis) of the blood vessels leading to the brain, legs, or kidneys.
  • Clots in the deep veins of the legs

Head and brain (including the ears)
MRI can help detect brain tumours, blood clots, a bulge in the wall of a blood vessel (aneurysm), bleeding in the brain, nerve fibre destruction caused by multiple sclerosis (MS), and other types of brain damage (such as damage caused by a stroke). MRI can also reveal problems of the eyes, the nerves leading from the eyes to the brain (optic nerves), the ears, and the nerves leading from the ears to the brain (auditory nerves)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head is used to:

  • Evaluate headaches.
  • Diagnose tumours, infections, or inflammatory conditions (such as encephalitis or meningitis) of the brain or brain stem.
  • Evaluate symptoms (such as altered consciousness, confusion, or abnormal movements) that may be caused by degenerative brain disease (such as Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, or Alzheimer's disease).
  • Evaluate signs of a known or suspected head injury.
  • Evaluate the eyes, the nerves leading from the eyes to the brain (optic nerves), the ears, and the nerves leading from the ears to the brain (auditory nerves).
  • Help diagnose stroke or blood vessel abnormalities. Problems with blood vessels may include an aneurysm or abnormally twisted, dilated blood vessels that are present at birth (called an arteriovenous malformation, or AV malformation).
  • Evaluate blood flow to the brain. MRI can diagnose bleeding in or around the brain.

Chest (including the heart)
MRI can be used to look at structures of the heart, such as the valves and coronary blood vessels. It can also detect damage to the heart or lungs (such as from tumours).

Blood vessels
The use of MRI to look at blood vessels and the flow of blood through them is called magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). It can help detect problems of the arteries and veins, such as a bulge in the wall of an artery (aneurysm), blockage of a blood vessel (by fatty deposits or a blood clot), or a torn inner lining of a blood vessel (dissection).

MRI can detect problems of the organs and structures in the abdomen, such as tumours, bleeding, infection, and blockage. Malformations in structures, such as in the ureters, may also be detected by MRI.

Bones and joints
MRI can help detect some problems of the bones, joints, and soft tissues of a joint (such as cartilage, ligaments, and tendons). Conditions that can be evaluated include arthritis, problems with the joint in the jaw (temporomandibular joint), bone marrow disorders, bone tumours, cartilage tears, worn-out cartilage, torn ligaments, or infection. MRI may also help diagnosis a bone fracture when X-ray results are inconclusive. MRI is done more commonly than other tests (such as arthrography) to evaluate certain bone and joint problems.

MRI can be used to help diagnose conditions such as spinal stenosis, disc bulges, and spinal tumours. 

Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine is used to:

  • Detect problems of the spinal discs (such as a ruptured disc). The test may also help determine if a disc is pressing on a nerve.
  • Detect areas of the spinal canal that are abnormally narrowed (spinal stenosis).
  • Detect tumours of the spinal cord. The tumours that most commonly spread to the spine include those from prostate, breast, or lung cancer.
  • Further evaluate areas of joint inflammation (arthritis) or abnormal bone loss discovered during an X-ray test or a bone scan.
  • Locate areas of the spinal cord that are not receiving an adequate blood supply.
  • Detect areas of infection within the outermost layer of the spine and the spinal cord.
  • Detect areas of nerve damage in the spinal cord caused by trauma or disease (such as multiple sclerosis).
  • Evaluate problems of the spine that have been present since birth (congenital).
Last updated: Fri, 2015-03-06 14:46