When it comes to imaging soft tissue, most radiologists prefer to use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners. These MRI scanners are able to provide images of structures like the brain, blood vessels, muscles, organs and spinal cord.
The 3T MRI scanner is the latest technology that makes use of a magnetic field and sophisticated imaging procedures to make an accurate diagnosis of any faults in the body.
In this article, we will look at how an MRI machine works, and the benefit of a 3T MRI scanner.
How do MRI scanners work?
MRI scanners make use of powerful magnets and harmless radio waves to detect what is happening in the human body.
Hydrogen is found in abundance in the body as it forms part of water, and the human body is 70% water.
Hydrogen protons have a north and a south pole and spin around their central axis. The magnetic resonance produced by an MRI machine impacts the protons, forcing them to align and spin at the same frequency.
A second magnet turns the hydrogen atoms to face different directions. Once the second magnet is switched off, the molecules realign. How fast these atoms realign will depend on which type of tissue the hydrogen molecule is situated in.
Radio waves are detected by the MRI machine through coils placed around your body. All this information is sent to a computer that is able to present the information as images.
An MRI scanner can show images of soft tissue, musculoskeletal system, organs and bones, and can provide a more accurate diagnosis than X-rays and sonar.
What are 3T MRI Scanners?
3T MRI machines are currently the fastest MRI technology available. It can complete a full-body scan within an hour, and provides clear, non-distorted images by using non-invasive technology that does not depend on radiation.
A doctor or specialist will order an MRI scan to independently look at certain areas of a person's body, although full scans can be done.
Difference between 3T and Open MRI scanners
An open MRI is an excellent option for a person who does not like being in confined spaces, who is overweight, or who has certain disabilities which prevent them from making use of a traditional MRI scanner.
When compared to a 3T, an Open MRI scanner has weaker magnetic field strength due to the open design. This often results in lower quality images.
The 3T MRI machine will produce images of the highest quality with a higher resolution due to the increased magnetic strength. It works well for imaging smaller lesions and small bones which are often not imaged by the open MRI.
A closed 3T MRI scanner will also have more signal than an open MRI, and because it is closed, it has a better signal to noise ratio.
Differences between 3T and 1.5T MRI scanners
A 1.5T MRI is what is considered a traditional MRI scanner. In these scanners, patients must be very still for long periods of time (often up to an hour).
For patients with a fear of confined spaces, chronic pain, or disabilities, it can be very difficult to spend this much time within a closed bore MRI.
The 3T MRI scanner has a larger bore than a 1.5T MRI scanner, which will make patients feel more at ease. It also has a stronger magnet, meaning it is faster, and the patients can spend less time inside the machine.
The 3T MRI delivers a higher image quality than the 1.5T due to the improved strength. Clearer images mean that repeated scans can be avoided since the imaging can be used to diagnose the patient after the first scan.
How safe are 3T MRIs?
Most MRIs have the same safety precautions. Although the machines use non-invasive radio waves and a magnetic field to create images, there are certain steps to be taken to ensure the safety of the patient.
Firstly, no jewellery, pacemakers, or metal implants can be allowed within the MRI, as the strong magnet can rip out any metal in the body.
Caution should also be taken with tattoos and permanent make-up as trace amounts of metal could be present in the ink. Even medical implants that are deemed "MRI safe" can pose a hazard.
Although these scans are safe, some patients have reported swelling and a slight burning sensation during or after the scan.
3T MRI scanners hold many benefits. These fast scanning devices can produce the highest quality images in record time and can help physicians diagnose any abnormalities in the soft tissue and organs.
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