Orbital/Maxillofacial Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive imaging procedure which uses interaction between a strong magnetic field and radio frequency wave and their effect on the hydrogen atoms in the body to generate 2D and 3D images of the body. Unlike a CT scan, MRI technology does not use ionizing X-ray to generate images. It should be noted that MRI and CT are not equivalent in diagnostic capabilities – some diseases are better evaluated with MRI than CT, while other times, diseases are better evaluated with CT than MRI. Many times, they are complimentary. Depending on the type of abnormality under investigation, intravenous contrast material may be utilized.
Locations Offering This Procedure:
Who Needs This Procedure?
MRI is particularly good in detecting soft tissue structures and water which contain lots of hydrogens from water molecules and fat molecules. With that in mind, MRI is best used in imaging big vessels like aorta, local tumor invasions, subtle muscle or bone marrow edema and diagnosing cysts verses solid lesion. Also, because MRI uses different contrast material than the CT, if a patient has history of adverse reactions to CT contrast, and contrast enhanced study is needed, MRI may be an alternative. Note that MRI is poor in evaluating small lung cancers and pulmonary embolism.
Preparing For The Procedure:
MRI technology depends on the use of a very strong magnet to capture images inside the body. Patients with metal implants should not undergo MRI. If your doctor requests the use of contrast material, you may be asked not to eat or drink before the procedure. If you have history of mild claustrophobia, your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medication. For moderate to severe claustrophobia, MRI is contraindicated in an outpatient setting. Every MRI procedure is different, so contact your doctor for details before your procedure.
During The Procedure:
The patient lays on the exam table for the entirety of the procedure. If necessary, a contrast material will be administered intravenously. While the MRI unit is capturing images, the exam table will move the patient through, building a 3D image. Most procedures last about 45 minutes.
What Will I Experience?
Some patients may feel anxious about being inside a traditional “closed” MRI machine. “Open” MRI units are available for patients who would prefer it, especially those with claustrophobia. However, the capabilities of the “open” MRI unit are usually less than that of a “closed” unit.
MRI technology offers detection of soft-tissue abnormalities in a non-invasive way. MRI does not emit radiation, making it a safe alternative to other imaging technology.