Using extremely strong magnetic fields and radio waves, an MRI generates detailed imaging of organs and structures within the human body in real time. While we may take it for granted today, the technology was simply not available for the vast bulk of human history. The very first MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) actually took five years to build, and the very first full body scan took over five hours to complete in 1977. New advances in MRI technology have come a long way since the 1980’s, when the MRI became part of the medical landscape.
Advances in MRI Technology
The technology behind MRI is still based on generating a powerful magnetic field. Although the basic technology and hardware designs have dramatically improved, most of the recent advances have been on the software and computing side, allowing faster and more accurate scans with greater detail.
Overall improvements in imaging quality mean that physicians can pinpoint even tiny structures and processes in a living, breathing human being. Interestingly enough, breathing and lung tissues were sometimes difficult to scan because they are filled with air. Air has a relatively low dentistry and therefore was not always easy to image during the short between breath stages of breathing. Newer technology has worked around this to increase the accuracy and detail of scans of all forms of tissue, including the lungs.
Besides being faster, scans have also become much safer. Because an MRI does not rely on ionizing radiation in the same way that X-rays do, they are considered minimally invasive and safe overall. Even so, newer MRI technology has increased patient comfort, produced breathtakingly clear images and dramatically cut down the time required to perform an MRI. Additionally, newer MRI’s are less noisy, reducing the sounds to ambient background noise rather than loud clicks and whirring noises that some patients find uncomfortable. Open MRI’s also offer a more open field to reduce any anxiety caused by feeling confined.
Alongside the advances in MRI technology, many medical implant companies are creating MRI- conditioned medical implants that do not cause issues during MRI scans. Other advances allow for simplified testing for cardiac scans, increased diagnostic range, and more real time testing of everything from blood flow to other internal processes, and advanced cloud and super computing capabilities.
Between new software and hardware advances, increased patient comfort and safety, faster processing time and more accurate imaging, a lot of improvements have occurred in the last three decades of MRI usage. New patents are pending, so the technology that drives all forms of imaging studies and diagnostic testing keeps moving forward. Imagine what will happen in the next three decades, much less the next century.
If you, or a loved one, needs and MRI, or you would like to know more about our advanced MRI technology, or to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified radiologists in the Wellington, Belle Glade, Lake Worth or Royal Palm Beach areas, please call (561) 795-5558, or request an appointment online today.