- What is magnetic resonance imaging and how does it work?
- Are there any contraindications?
- MRI and ovaries
What is magnetic resonance imaging and how does it work?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a radiological technique that is based on the use of magnetic fields allowing to visualize the inside of our body. It is a safe medical investigation with no risks for the organism. MRI is a diagnostic procedure similar to the CT scan but uses magnetic fields rather than X rays. During the procedure, the patient is placed inside a very strong magnetic field and atoms (protons) that form the body acquire energy and orient themselves according to the pattern of the magnetic field. When the magnetic field is deactivated, atoms go back to their natural orientation, release the accumulated energy and issue a signal that is then transformed in cross-sectional images of the organ being examined.
Are there any contraindications?
Since the scanner is a big, strong magnet, there are some contraindications on its use like the presence of pacemakers, surgical clips, bone pins and, before the procedure starts, it is necessary to remove all metal items. In some cases, to improve the quality of images, a contrast medium that is a radiopaque liquid is injected in a vein in the arm. Such liquid poses some risks that are essentially related to severe renal impairment or allergy to the contrast liquid.
MRI and ovaries
MRI is used to examine all parts of the body, for the study of different diseases including cancer. MRI, that allows the study of internal organs, is used to integrate information obtained through a CT scan about organs like the ovaries in case of suspicious ovarian masses.
MRI is rarely used as the first exam. Generally, the initial examination is through CT scan and only after this, an in-depth analysis with MRI takes place. MRI is commonly used for differential diagnosis, thus to define diseases like ovarian or uterine cancer.
After a gynaecological examination to determine the presence of masses, an abdominal and pelvic scan is performed before other radiological exams like MRI and computerized tomography (CT scan).
Definite diagnosis is formulated only after a histological test (biopsy or removal of the entire ovary) that requires surgery.