Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to image the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body in both health and disease. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, radio waves, and field gradients to form images of the body.
MRI is based upon the science of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). Certain atomic nuclei can absorb and emit radio frequency energy when placed in an external magnetic field. In clinical and research MRI, hydrogen atoms are most often used to generate a detectable radio-frequency signal that is received by antennas in close proximity to the anatomy being examined. Hydrogen atoms exist naturally in people and other biological organisms in abundance, particularly in water and fat. For this reason, most MRI scans essentially map the location of water and fat in the body. Pulses of radio waves are used to excite the nuclear spin energy transition, and magnetic field gradients localize the signal in space. By varying the parameters of the pulse sequence, different contrasts can be generated between tissues based on the relaxation properties of the hydrogen atoms therein.
Since its early development in the 1970s and 1980s, MRI has proven to be a highly versatile imaging modality.
MRI scans are capable of producing a variety of chemical and physical data, in addition to detailed spatial images. It is widely used in hospitals and clinics for medical diagnosis, staging of disease and follow-up without exposing the body to ionizing radiation.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Internet. Accessed on June 14, 2016.