Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

In Witten our practice RUHRRADIOLOGIE is equipped with the world’s first fully digital high-end MRI: the PHILIPS INGENIA MRI system.

Advantages of the PHILIPS INGENIA MRI System

  • outstanding image quality in an extraordinarily short examination time
  • enhanced comfort due to enlarged tunnel opening (> 70 cm) and significant noise reduction (“comfort tone“)
  • orientation at the latest developments in cardiology, oncology and neurology

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Functional Principle

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – also referred to as nuclear spin tomography –has been used in diagnostic radiology since the 1980s. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a modern investigative procedure that enables us to obtain non-overlapping and three-dimensional images of the body’s interior. Moreover, it’s an X-ray free examination method. In contrast, a strong magnetic field is employed to study the human body. The hydrogen nuclei play an important role for magnetic resonance imaging. Normally, all nuclei in the body rotate around their own axes. This angular momentum is called “nuclear spin”. Through their own rotation these nuclei generate a minimal magnetic field. However, if one places a strong external magnetic field around the body, these nuclei then align themselves in the same direction, namely in the longitudinal direction of the body – like a compass needle. Additionally, the MRI device sends out high frequency radio waves during the measurements which change the parallel alignment of the hydrogen nuclei. After each pulse they fall back into the longitudinal direction. During this process the hydrogen nuclei produce signals, which are measured during the examination and then processed to generate high-resolution computer images.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Fields of Application

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is particularly useful for investigation of soft tissue and its abnormal changes.

In our practices MRI is mainly used to diagnose changes and disorders of the following organs and tissue:

  • spine and all joints
  • head, brain and spinal cord
  • abdominal and pelvic organs and tissue
  • breast (MRI mammography)
  • blood vessels (abdominal and pelvic region, extremities (MRI angiography = imaging of blood vessels by MRI)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Process of Examination

The MRI diagnostics is performed in a shielded examination room. During the entire examination our medical staff monitors you through a large glass pane from the control room. You will lie on your back on an examination table that slides slowly into the tunnel opening (> 70 cm wide, 130 cm long) of the magnet. It is well ventilated and illuminated and is open at both ends. The region of the body being examined is placed in the middle of the magnet. The procedure usually lasts for 10 to 40 minutes depending on the investigated body area.

We regret that relatively loud knocking sounds which result from the rapid electrical switching operations are unavoidable. In order to make you feel more comfortable you can get earplugs or headphones to listen to pleasant music. Our medical staff can watch and hear you all the time. During the examination you will hold a bell to alert our staff in case of emergency.

In order to get good images, you should lie as still as possible. Moreover, you should remain relaxed, breathe calmly and follow the breathing instructions given by our assistants.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Contrast Agents

The use of an intravenous contrast agent, which is injected through a thin plastic catheter into a vein in the arm, helps to improve the quality of diagnostically conclusive images. Please note that some findings can only be detected after injection of a contrast agent. Occasionally, the radiologist decides to make use of a contrast agent when the examination has already started. The contrast agents we employ in MRI are generally well tolerated.

In case of refusing to undergo this examination or to accept the injection of the contrast agent it can possibly lead to a negative effect on the results or the non-detection of diseases.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Alternatives

Non-invasive diagnostic alternatives to nuclear spin tomography or magnetic resonance imaging are ultrasound examination (sonography), computed tomography (a special type of X-ray examination which offers non-overlapping multilayer images of the body in any plane and sectional direction) or scintigraphy (recording of radoactive signals after application of small amounts of low-level radioactive substances).

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Contraindications

Considering certain conditions and reasons of safety the MRI, sometimes, can’t be performed at all or only under special circumstances. This applies to patients with cardiac pacemakers or other implanted electronic stimulators/pumps. Moreover, patients with metal fragments (e.g. artificial heart valves, shrapnel or any kind of metallic inclusions) should only be examined under certain conditions. However, metal implants such as nails, plates and prostheses in bones and joints usually do not interfere with an MRI scan. Tattoos or permanent make-up can heat up, therefore we provide you with cool packs. Before entering the magnetic resonance imaging examination room you must remove all objects that might contain metal, including piercings, hearing aids and pain patches. Patients who undergo MRI diagnostics aren’t allowed to keep any metallic objects on their body.

Caution! Please remove all metallic objects that you wear on your body before entering the examination room (e.g. watches, spectacles, hearing aids, belts, rings, coins, clothes with metallic applications, keys, ballpoint pens, hairpins, badges, dentures or jewellery). Furthermore, your magnetic cards of every type have to be removed, because they would be deleted in the examination room.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging – Risks

During the application of a vein tube or injection of contrast medium:

Rarely (0,01 % – 0,1 %): It can cause damage to skin, tissue or nerves. Possible, under certain conditions permanent consequences: pain, inflammation, tissue necrosis, scars, disturbed sensation or function or paralyses.

Rarely (0,01 % – 0,1 %): minor allergic reaction, itching, exanthema, nausea or other mild forms of reaction. The symptoms usually disappear shortly after treatment.

Very rarely (< 0,01 %): strong allergic reaction with respiratory stress, circulatory shock, heart failure, apnoea require intensive care and might cause brain damages or organ failure. Allergic reactions can even appear hours after the injection of the contrast agent.

Hardly ever (< 0,001 %): Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) is a rare and serious disease that involves fibrosis of skin and internal organs. It can cause multi-organ failure or even lead to death.

MRI examinations are available at the following locations of RUHRRADIOLOGIE: Our practices in Dortmund, Witten and Ennepetal.