Are you considering an MRI scan, but want to know more about how it works, and what the benefits are?  

An MRI scan is a popular alternative offered instead of a CT scan or an X-ray, to detect any diseases or conditions within your body. Trinity Medical Centre uses high-quality machines, and the latest technology, to provide a simple, efficient and highly effective MRI scanning procedure.

This article will look at a little information on how an MRI machine works as well as some of the benefits of choosing an MRI scan over a CT scan or X-ray. 

How does an MRI scan work?

An MRI scan is a quick and simple procedure. You will first be registered at reception, and taken to a private changing room where you can prepare yourself and remove any unnecessary items, which you can keep safe in a secure locker. You will then be guided to the radiographer to answer questions and start the MRI scan.

You will be asked to lay down on the scanner, with the part of the body being examined in the centre. The machine offers a wide bore of approximately 70 cm, which provides a spacious and comforting environment. You will then be moved into the MRI machine, which requires you to lie still and quiet. The MRI machine will make several loud noises while it is working, which is nothing to be afraid of. However, with the 1.5T MRI Philips Ingenia machine used at Trinity Medical Centre, the noise is reduced by more than 80% of your usual machine. All patients are welcome to use earplugs if that would make them more comfortable. Staff will be watching the whole time, and all patients will be able to communicate with them via an intercom if required. MRI scans usually take between 30-90 minutes, depending on what part of your body is being scanned, how many images are required and whether additional steps are taken, for example, in some cases you may be required to have an injection of contrast medium dye, which is gently injected into your arm and helps with a more detailed image. Trinity Medical Centre uses smart software in their MRI machines, such as mDixon and MultiVane, which increases exam speed times and reduces the chances of a retake.

An MRI scanner is completely harmless and uses magnets and radio frequencies to gather the information required. As humans, we are made up of 70% water, and water molecules each have two hydrogen atoms, which have a nucleus with a single positively charged proton. These protons have what is similar to a north and south pole, and spin on an axis. So when the MRI scanner generates a magnetic field, it provides the foundation for the protons to line up and spin at a specific frequency. How the molecules face and the rate at which they realign when the machine is switched off, will depend on the type of body tissue it inhabits. This is then monitored by the coils in the machine, which are able to identify the radio frequencies which then piece together an image of the soft tissue, bones and organs in your body.  

Benefits of choosing an MRI scan

There are many benefits to obtaining an MRI scan. For example:

  • An MRI scanner is able to take a image of any part of the human body, including structures and organs, in any direction
  • The images obtained by an MRI scanner are able to provide detailed information to physicians when trying to diagnose a condition or disease with a patient, for example, cancerous tumours, heart conditions, hip joint defects, and are useful when studying the brain, eyes and the nervous system
  • MRI scanners are often preferable over CT scanners and other devices due to the detail they can provide, for example, they can differentiate between water, fat, muscle and other tissue in the body better 
  • It can detect issues a lot earlier than other devices and can monitor changes in conditions
  • It is a non-invasive and painless process
  • It can cover large sections of the body in a short amount of time 
  • There is no exposure to radiation in the process, which is the case with CT scans, PET scans and X-rays
  • It can detect swelling and inflammation

There are many benefits to obtaining an MRI scan, as it is relatively low risk and can aid in the early detection of any diseases or conditions that you should be concerned about. Trinity Medical Centre offers one of only five MRI scanners in Hong Kong and utilises the best technology for an easy and efficient scan.