Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a way of obtaining very detailed images of organs and tissues throughout the body without the need for x-rays or "ionizing" radiation. Instead, MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, rapidly changing magnetic fields, and a computer to create images that show whether or not there is an injury, disease process, or abnormal condition present.
For the MRI procedure, the patient is placed inside of the MR scanner, a large doughnut-shaped device that is open on both ends. The powerful magnetic field aligns atomic particles called protons that are present in most of the body's tissues. The applied radio waves then cause these protons to produce signals that are picked up by a receiver within the MR scanner. The signals are specially characterized using the rapidly changing magnetic field, and, with the help of computer processing, images of tissues are created as "slices" that can be viewed in any orientation.
An MRI examination causes no pain, and the magnetic fields produce no known tissue damage of any kind. The MR scanner may make loud tapping, knocking or other noises at times during the procedure. However, using earplugs prevents problems that may be associated with this noise. You will be able to communicate with the MRI technologist at any time using an intercom system or by other means.
In addition to MRI, the Veterans Memorial Hospital Radiology Department provides many radiology services locally. CT, ultrasounds, bone densitometry, mammography, and general and emergency x-ray services are available every day. Plus the radiography system is a digital system that communicates quickly with specialists in larger hospitals, much faster than any patient could drive to another location.
The advantages of having a digital, state-of-the-art x-ray system are many. “Digital” means every x-ray image is computerized and can be easily transmitted to larger health care facilities for interpretation whenever a radiologist is not on site. Digital images are viewed on high-resolution monitors right away, with no waiting for film to develop. These high-resolution monitors are being installed in various departments around Veterans Memorial Hospital so images can easily be sent to the department where the physician is for even quicker x-ray interpretation.
“Digital” also means higher quality. Digital X-ray images are much clearer and easier for the radiologist to read. Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital technology. Since the images are computerized, the radiologist can also easily adjust the brightness, change the contrast and zoom in for close-ups of specific areas of interest in any X-ray.
All digital x-rays can easily be stored just like computer files. This is a great convenience when comparing one x-ray to another. These computerized images can easily be brought up on the monitor, side by side, for comparison, on any monitor within the hospital or any other medical facility the images are sent. This eliminates the dependence on only one set of original x-ray films.
Mammography has been offered by Veterans Memorial Hospital for more than 20 years, but is also now available into the evening hours so patients are invited to make appointments for a mammogram after work. This change in schedule was made in an effort to make mammography screening more accessible.