Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Definition, function and process

The Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) belongs in the field of neurophysiology to the imaging techniques. With the magnetic resonance tomograph two-dimensional sectional images of the human body can be generated without X-ray radiation and radioactive radiation exposure. Side effects are unknown. The abbreviation MRI (English Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is just as common as the term magnetic resonance imaging / nuclear spin.
How does an MRI work?
The method of magnetic resonance tomography makes use of the magnetic properties of the hydrogen atoms in the human body. The MRI device uses a magnetic coil to generate a strong magnetic field that is imperceptible to humans. As a result, the hydrogen atoms in the human body are aligned evenly. In the normal state these are arranged purely by chance.
A high-frequency impulse from radio waves then ensures that the hydrogen atoms randomly arrange themselves for a short time. Because of the magnetic field, however, the hydrogen atoms then immediately align themselves again evenly. This return is measured and ultimately provides the image information.
Image contrast (light-dark contrast) is due to the different amount of hydrogen atoms in the tissues. Soft tissue (e.g., brain, muscles, or individual organs) may therefore be rendered particularly well. Dehydrated structures like bones are a bit less well.
Expiry of an MRI examination:
The patient to be examined is first pushed into the tubular MRI device. Noise protection is provided by headphones, which the doctor can also communicate with if necessary. In the event of panic or unforeseen events, the patient can interrupt the examination at any time via an emergency bell. Meanwhile, there are also open MRI's, which are particularly suitable for patients with claustrophobia.
The entire examination takes between 20 and 60 minutes, depending on the part of the body to be examined and how quickly the desired images can be completed. The use of contrast media is up to the doctor and is not mandatory for every examination.
How much does magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) cost?
Depending on which part of the body is examined, an MRI costs between € 300 (knee) and € 800 (skull). The use of contrast media costs about 100 € in addition. However, prices vary considerably from practice to practice.