Monday, December 8, 2008

How MRI Works

On July 3, 1977, an event took place that would forever alter the landscape of modern medicine. Outside the medical research community, this event made scarcely a ripple at first. This event was the first MRI exam ever performed on a human being.

It took almost five hours to produce one image. The images were, by today's standards, quite ugly. Dr. Raymond Damadian, a physician and scientist, along with colleagues Dr. Larry Minkoff and Dr. Michael Goldsmith, labored tirelessly for seven long years to reach this point. They named their original machine "Indomitable" to capture the spirit of their struggle to do what many said could not be done.

This machine is now in the Smithsonian Institution. As late as 1982, there were but a handful of MRI scanners in the entire United States. Today there are thousands. We can image in seconds what used to take hours.

MRI is a very complicated technology not well understood by many. In this article, you'll learn all about how a huge, noisy MRI machine actually works. What is happening to your body while you are in the machine? What can we see with an MRI and why do you have to hold so still during your exam? These questions and many more are answered here, so let's get started!

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