Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake
808 Bestgate Road
Annapolis, MD 21401

Phone: (410) 224-0121 - ext 8

15 Facts You Need to Know About MRI

  • MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

  • An MRI can be used to take images of the brain and face, spine, joints, long bones, vascular systems, abdomen and lungs.

  • Many different diseases that are treatable and even curable can be definitively diagnosed using MRI.

  • The MRI scanner is a superconducting electro magnet that is filled with approximately 1,000 liters of liquid helium, which exists at a temperature of four degrees Kelvin (-452 degrees Fahrenheit).

  • The MRI’s magnetic field is 1,000–4,000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field. Magnetism is measured in Gauss, while MRI scanners are measured in Tesla. 1 Tesla = 10,000 Gauss. VIoC's scanner is 1.5 Tesla.

  • The scanner utilizes its powerful magnetic field, radio-frequency pulses and computer to produce detailed pictures of internal body structures.

  • The strong magnetic field in the MRI scanner is used to align hydrogen protons in tissue.

  • MRI is able to make such clear pictures because of the large number of protons found in the body, primarily in water and fat.

  • Radio waves are used to affect hydrogen protons in specific interactions. The radio frequency receptors then collect the response or “echo” of the protons.

  • Unhealthy tissues respond to the radio frequencies differently than healthy tissues.

  • Advanced computer systems evaluate and reconstruct the data into images. Each image sequence gives a unique set of information. MRI provides superior images with excellent soft-tissue detail and three-dimensional reconstruction.

  • Imaging can be done at practically any position or angle without moving the patient.

  • Since the information the MRI produces is digital, the scans can be sent in real time to our board-certified radiologist and to the referring veterinarian.

  • Unlike conventional radiographs (x-rays) or computerized tomography (CT), MRI does not use ionizing radiation, which can be harmful. (X-rays are a trillion times more energetic and potentially damaging than radio waves.)

  • MRI contrast agents do not cause the allergic reactions that iodine-based agents do.

For more on the technology of MRI, see

Thanks to Kevin C. Stevens, ARRT, RT (R)(MR), VIoC's Chief of Imaging, for assistance in putting this list together.