MRI: The History and Technology

Person in MRI

Medical technology has advanced at an amazingly fast pace over the last several decades. Just 100 years ago, the idea of different human blood types and the existence of vitamins was a new discovery.  Cancer was still considered a fatal disease until 1946 when chemotherapy started curing patients.  Those with poor eyesight had no alternative to glasses until LASIK was developed in 1973.  As recently as 2006, the first HPV vaccine was approved, which is now listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines.

These significant advances in healthcare have led to the eradication of disease, faster recovery times, and longer lifespans worldwide.  Another medical technology that is saving lives is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

What is an MRI?

In 1952, Felix Bloch and Edward Mills Purcell won the Nobel Prize for developing nuclear magnetic resonance.  By the late 1970s, Dr. Raymond V. Damadian had patented a nuclear magnetic resonance technique to differentiate normal tissue from cancerous tissue.  In 1992, researchers first used functional MRI to detect blood flow in the brain and how it affects human mental activity.

“MRI” stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.  It is a method of capturing an image of the inside of a human’s body to detect disease, cancer, and other abnormalities.  This image can be used to evaluate the extent of the medical condition and develop a treatment plan.

How Does an MRI Work?

During an MRI scan, you will lay on an elevated table that is then moved back into the MRI machine.  The machine is shaped like a large tube, with your body on the table in the center. Surrounding you, powerful magnets will create a field that forces protons inside your body to line up.  Then, radio waves are pulsed through, which causes the protons to spin out of line, trying to get back to the magnetic field.  When the radio waves are turned off, sensors can detect the energy that the protons have released as they realign with the magnetic field.  Faster protons will appear bright white on the image, while slower ones will be darker spots.  Your doctor will be able to read this image and learn more about what’s going on inside your body without having to do surgery.

When is an MRI Needed?

Although they both are used to see inside your body, an MRI scan is different from an X-ray because it does not use radiation.  An X-ray is better at capturing images of bones, while an MRI takes a look at the soft tissues such as the brain, spinal cord, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  These benefits make it the perfect choice for knee and shoulder injuries, as well as brain conditions like aneurysms and tumors.

Where Can I Find an MRI Near Me?

When you need a quality, compassionate MRI center, contact Advanced Surgical Hospital. Our staff is professional and friendly, and we make your comfort our top priority.