Over a century ago in 1900, the life expectancy for the average man or woman was just 47 years old; a hundred years later in 2000 the life expectancy has increased to around 77 years. This is thanks in large part to advancements in medical technology that allows doctors to diagnose patients faster and more accurately. One critical element of modern medical technology is radiology which uses imaging technologies such as x-rays, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to see within the body to detect abnormalities or diseases.
What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging?
MRI radiology utilizes a magnetic field and radio waves in order to see within the human body to produce a 3D image that doctors can examine from multiple angles. With an MRI the patient lies perfectly still as the machine rotates around them; a typical MRI scan can last from 30 minutes to upwards of two hours depending on the region being mapped. There are around 30 million MRI scan performed in the United States every year, around 22% of which are scans of the head to detect abnormalities in the brain.
What Can Be Learned From Radiology Imaging?
There are a number of radiology centers across the country stocked with the latest in medical equipment to help doctors diagnose their patients. MRIs are able to help detect ailments in the brain, sports injuries, musculoskeletal problems, prostate problems, and soft tissue and bone conditions among other defects. One of the latest developments from radiology is the use of 3D mammography tomosynthesis to help detect breast cancer. Although women are far more likely to develop breast cancer, it is expected that there will be over 2,000 cases diagnosed in male patients; a man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000 compared to a 1 in 8 chance for women.
Preparing for Your MRI
An MRI can be an intimidating machine for those who have never had to undergo the procedure before. Whenever a patient schedules their MRI they will receive specific instructions on how to prepare; typically this means light eating restrictions two or so hours before the appointment. You will be asked to remove any metal on your person, since the MRI is essentially a large magnet. Patients will need to lie still in the machine as it takes series of pictures; each series will take around 15 minutes and many patients will need two to six series before the test completes. The MRI machine can be quite noisy and sounds similar to someone banging on a wall with a hammer; thankfully this is the worst part of an MRI. Thanks to advanced forms of radiology like MRIs and 3D mammograms, life-threatening diseases can be detected in the early stages — radiology gives patients a fighting chance and may even save your life one day.