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Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, is a non-invasive imaging technique that produces incredibly detailed cross-sectional images of your body without the use of radiation. Instead, you enter a tube-shaped machine that creates images through sound waves and a magnetic field.

MRI scanners can image parts of your body previously hidden from view by bone. These clear, detailed images allow physicians to pinpoint brain lesions, identify problems of the spinal column, heart, abdomen, and other organs and tissues.

The advantages of MRI

  • MRI can offer the most sensitive exam for spinal and joint problems so it’s widely used to diagnose sports-related injuries, especially those affecting the knee, shoulder, hip, elbow and wrist. These images can expose very small tears and injuries to ligaments and muscles.
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) of the heart, aorta, coronary arteries and blood vessels is a fast, noninvasive tool for diagnosing coronary artery disease and heart problems. Physicians can examine the size and thickness of the chambers of the heart, and determine the extent of damage caused by a heart attack or progressive heart disease.
  • Organs of the chest and abdomen – including the lungs, liver, kidney, spleen, pancreas and abdominal vessels – can also be examined in high detail in MRI images, enabling the diagnosis and evaluation of tumors and functional disorders.
  • MRI contrast material is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based materials used for conventional X-rays and CT scanning.
  • Exposure to radiation is avoided.

3 Tesla (3T) MRI – stronger, faster and more advanced

Bristol Regional Medical Center and Franklin Woods Community Hospital are the only two hospitals in the region to offer the most powerful MRI technology available today – a new scanner with a magnet strength of 3.0 Tesla.

This painless, non-invasive procedure allows your doctor to see superior images with greater clarity than ever before, which means shorter scan time for patients and more accurate diagnosis of a variety of diseases and injuries.

Breast MRI

The American Cancer Society’s new screening guidelines support what Ballad Health has already been doing for several years – offering breast MRI to women at high risk for breast cancer.

Available at the Imaging Center at Holston Valley Medical Center, breast MRI is more sensitive than a mammogram and therefore allows for better early detection. The ACS recommends that higher risk women combine an annual mammogram with breast MRI.

Learn more about the breast health services offered at Ballad Health.

Patients who cannot use MRI

An MRI exam is safe, simple and painless. However, because some metal interferes with the MRI machine, a patient cannot be examined if he or she has:

  • Brain aneurysm clips
  • A pacemaker or pacing wires
  • Metal fragments in one or both eyes
  • Metal prosthesis within the body
  • An implanted spinal cord stimulator or brain stimulator
  • Pregnancy

It is very important that if you are pregnant or there is a possibility of pregnancy, or if you are breastfeeding, that you inform your physician and the center personnel prior to your MRI.

The MRI procedure

A technologist will position you on the moveable examination table and an open frame will be positioned around the part of your body being scanned.

If a contrast material will be used in the MRI exam, a nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm.

You will then be moved into the magnet of the MRI unit, and the radiologist and technologist will leave the room while the MRI examination is performed.

When the examination is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist checks the images in case additional images are needed.

The entire examination is usually completed within 45 minutes.

Accredited, High-Quality Imaging

Several Ballad Health locations are accredited in MRI tests by the American College of Radiology (ACR). That means you benefit from:

  • Strict steps we take to make sure your test is performed the right way and leads to correct results
  • Highly qualified staff
  • Up-to-date technology