MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a type of imaging technology which involves the use of magnets that are able to generate an image of the interior structures of the body. The scan is particularly useful in the imaging of soft tissues as well as in diagnosing conditions such as malignant mesothelioma.
How the MRI Functions
The images are generated through the MRI scanner, which is a highly advanced machine that utilizes magnets in order to form a magnetic field which excites the protons that are present within the water molecules of the body. The protons are aligned within the field and are then pushed by another magnetic field so that they are no longer aligned. When the protons once again realign within the field, they generate a certain radiofrequency which used to produce an image. Several agents are then used to increase the signal so that the resulting image can be increasingly detailed.
Mesothelioma Diagnosis through the MRI
Similar to CT scans, the MRI is an imaging scan that is superior to the x-ray when it comes to seeing the structures of the internal tissue. The images that are generated from the MRI and CT scan are similar. However, the MRI is better able to visualize the contrast of soft tissue, meaning that it can reveal small variations between similar structures in the soft tissue and between parts of the same structure.
The CT is typically the first scan which is used to determine whether an individual has mesothelioma. However, the MRI is able to provide the physician with a more detailed visualization of the tissue, so it is common for the MRI to be used when the CT is not conclusive.
One of the primary uses of the MRI is for the planning and staging of surgeries in mesothelioma patients. Surgeons utilize the MRI in order to determine how the disease has progressed and invaded the surrounding tissues so that the surgery can be correctly planned.
Risks of the MRI
A difference between the MRI and CT scans is the extent of the respective long-term risks. The CT scan uses ionizing radiation that has been known to damage the tissues of the body. However, the MRI uses magnetism, which has no documented ill effects. Although most individuals do not suffer complications from CT scans, it is still possible that side effects might manifest in the long term.