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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field, radio frequency pulses, and a computer to produce pictures of organs, tissues, bone and other internal body structures. The MRI unit is composed of a cylinder-shaped tube and outer circular magnet. Patients lie on a runway platform that slides through the center of the magnet.

MRI does not utilize ionizing radiation like X-rays or CT scans. Instead, the MR scanner captures the energy movement that’s caused by radiowaves redirecting naturally occurring hydrogen atoms in the body. A computer then generates a series of images to show a “thin slice” of the body.

MRI exams typically involve multiple runs, called sequences, some of which last several minutes “in the tube”. Patients who suffer from claustrophobia or fear of enclosed spaces may experience discomfort or difficulty lying still during the process.

MRIs are used to help diagnose or monitor treatment for a variety of conditions within the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and spine, including musculoskeletal problems, tumors, and vascular abnormalities.