Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
How does an MRI scan work?
MRI does not use radiation, as do X-rays or computed tomography (CT scans). MRI creates a strong magnetic field around a patient by running an electrical current through a coil of wire. The magnetic field, along with a radiofrequency, alters the hydrogen atoms' natural alignment in the body. A short burst of radiofrequency waves alter the activity of the hydrogen atoms and they are detected and translated into a two or three-dimensional (2D or 3D) image of a body structure or organ by a computer. Cross-sectional views can be obtained to reveal further details. Patients who have experienced an MRI will tell you they tend to be very noisy. This is due to the quick expansion of the magnetically charged coil.
Most standard MRI units have a closed cylinder-shaped tunnel into which the patient is placed for the procedure. However there are a few “Open” MRI units that do not completely surround the patient. Some units may be open on all sides. While not magnetically as strong as standard machines, they can be useful for some procedures if a patient is Claustrophobic. We have an open MRI for patients at OHSU's Center for Health & Healing. Let your physician know if this is of some concern to you.
OHSU Diagnostic Imaging has expanded their services in Beaverton. We added a new MRI Suite with ambient lighting and a 3 tesla strength magnet. This is a new convenience for those who live or work out in Beaverton and ambient systems can decrease patient anxiety substantially.