MRI scans use radio waves and powerful magnets to take images of organs and structures inside the body by measuring their energy. Similar to a CT scan, MRI takes several pictures of thin slices of the organ while the patient lies on a table. Then, a computer combines all of the images and creates a 3-dimensional image of the body.
MRI is often used for people who are allergic to the substance needed for CT scans because a different type of contrast substance is typically used for an MRI scan. MRI scans do not involve exposure to radiation.
MRI scans take longer than CT scans. During a traditional MRI, a patient is required to lie motionless in a long cylinder. Patients who are claustrophobic may need to take a drug to calm their anxiety before entering this type of MRI scanner. There is a different type of MRI scanner called “open MRI.” In this type, the sides of the machine are open. This may be helpful for patients who are fearful of being in a closed space.
In addition, an MRCP can be performed at the time of the MRI for patients who need specific imaging of the bile and pancreatic ducts.
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