Do All M.R.I.'s Give the Complete Picture?

In a technologically obsessed world, there are two terms you’re probably familiar with: HDTV and M.R.I. Americans seem to be obsessed with finding the biggest, best quality TV on the market. With the leaps and bounds of technology, finding the biggest and best quality TV can take hours and hours of researching. Finally, when you’re satisfied with your choice, you feel at ease spending hundreds of dollars on the TV. On the other hand, when a person is injured, they usually go to the hospital, and if in need of and M.R.I., they go with what is available. Shouldn’t Americans be as picky with their M.R.I. choice as they are with their TV choices?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (M.R.I). use powerful magnets and radio waves to manipulate protons in the body’s hydrogen atoms, revealing differing characteristic of tissue. Like any other piece of technology, not all M.R.I. machines are created equal. Factors that relate to the quality of the device, include the strength of it’s magnets, quality of imaging coils, and the quality of computer programs used to control imaging and to analyze images. These factor can vary widely from one machine to another, making each machine unique in the image it produces. Unfortunately, the difference in these factors can be like the difference between a black-and-white TV and HDTV.

Not only do M.R.I. machines vary greatly, there is a huge variability in skill among the technicians doing the scans. The individual who reads your scan can differ in knowledge, experience and skill from hospital to hospital. Some hospitals use a general radiologist with no special training to read every type of scan. One scan can could be chest M.R.I. and the next could be a musculoskeletal M.R.I.

Just like researching for your TV, what do you need to know when looking for the best M.R.I.? At the very least, make sure the M.R.I. center is accredited by the American College of Radiology. This tells you that the center must be up to the standards that the American College of Radiology holds. Next, ask the center who will be reading the M.R.I. scan. If their answer is, “our general radiologist”, you may want to find another center or request a radiologist that specializes in the area of the body your having scanned to review it. As for the M.R.I. machine, find out how old the machine is. In the realm of technology, new is usually better. If a machine is older than five years, ask them if it has been updated or upgraded at anytime.

Remember, M.R.I.’s are just a tool for doctors to help diagnose a medical problem. Many doctors and patients tend to rely too much them. Make sure that your doctors have all your medical history and do a thorough examination in their medical evaluation of your injury. But, if you have had an M.R.I. scan that was read negative, and you still are experiencing problems in that area, get a second opinion/M.R.I. Before the second M.R.I., research the radiology center with the tips listed above to assure that you getting the best possible M.R.I. available.