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The Best in Brain Imaging

10 Oct 2017Science and Technology Essays

For years, brain imaging techniques had been developed since the time when human organs and skeletons were seen using X-ray, many doctors understood the need to identify and see inside the body without any surgical procedure done. X-rays were launched to display either two dimensional or three dimensional views of any part of the body. The tool known as “Computerized Tomography” or CT was the most popular imaging technique not until “Magnetic Resonance Imaging” or MRI came into the scene. It seemed that nothing could bit CT procedure and only those who believed in the potential of MRI had foreseen the possibilities of it being powerful than any other diagnostic techniques used to display pictures inside the body. It is capable of giving information about the condition of the tissues and organs of the body. It has more benefits than other methods, providing the details regarding the form and present status of the part being monitored. MRI figures out the defect in every detail that cannot be detected by CT scans. It shows that it is the best imaging method for distinguishing tumors in the brain and is also used to examine the role of the human brain by monitoring mental processes. It is used for detecting fractures in the spinal cord too. This method is installed and used in almost all hospitals all over the world and a trusted method by surgeons and doctors. For the past years now with the fast improvements done, MRI has come to be the preference for many applications.

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MRI technique is based on the use of magnetic fields and radio waves. It was discovered by Edward Purcell and Felix Bloch in 1952. This method creates 2D or 3D brain pictures without the use of radioactive tracers. When undergoing MRI, a magnetic field is developed in the patient’s head by the use of a cylindrical magnet where radio waves are being sent.

The inflicted magnetic field then produces a radio frequency. These frequencies are read by sensors that will help in producing an image using a computer. The sensors are so exact that it can monitor any transformation in the structure. The use of MRI can help in projecting the image of the structure even its tiniest anatomic aspect. Scanners of MRI can show any angle of the patient inside. The advantage of MRI is that it does not use any radioactive material and X-rays. It gives thorough information of the brain in different angles and dimensions. It is safe to use and no pain at all. It also does not have any requirement before undergoing the procedure. This means that the patient can drink or eat before the process. A patient with metallic tool inside the body cannot use MRI.

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Magnetic resonance before was a device used to determine molecular structure. It required magnetic fields that are very consistent to expose everything in the model all in the same field. It took years before it was realized that inconsistent magnetic fields can be used to produce pictures. The development of the imaging technique was done considering the fact that varying magnetic fields can be used rather than the uniform ones. Every part in the sample has its own magnetic field that characterizes its position. With this development, connecting the atomic nuclei to the position of the sample, and constructing it using a program, a three dimensional picture was examined in any angle using a monitor. This method became the start of an imaging technique (Feeney J.). The advantage of MRI is that the image contrast can be varied controllably. Some procedures using MRI can improve the feature of the blood like when doing examinations in the brain tissue. The MRI method is powerful for studying diseases in the brain. MRI technique gained more popularity when it was discovered to observe in a safe way the behavior of medicines and some treatments. The risks of undergoing radiation examinations such as in X-rays are now very important issues to consider especially when continuous examinations are needed. MRI is a good method for doing such tests. A good example to be thought of is person with multiple sclerosis. The defects in the brain and in the spine are easily monitored and detected by the MRI pictures taken from the patients. Recent tests conducted to people with multiple sclerosis uses MRI brain scanning after interferon, a protein coming from the immune system. This process is done every four to six weeks as part of the tests conducted to reduce the activity of the disease for patients treated using interferon (Feeney J.).

Many MRI equipments are used for research and educating hospitals. Although CT scanning is still dominant in common applications, MRI pictures are now being requested for images of soft tissues. There are major medical applications where in MRI images are needed such as scanning the brain for patients that are suspected to have encephalitis. Other applications where MRI is very useful are those injuries in the bones. MRI pictures can give exact place and nature of the defect thereby making sure that the right treatment is applied the soonest possible time. Another recent development in MRI is the functional MRI. This method examines the mind by doing stimulations in the brain through the sensory or perceptive side. The transformations that occurred matched to the precise part in the brain. Functional MRI is used to study the fundamental processes that the brain does and it will help in explaining the changes occurring in the formation of the memory (Schiffman). An example is the reaction of the brain after seeing light and the actions it has done and a simple gesture like moving the fingers. These movements have precise equivalent in the perceptive side of the brain.

The improvements done in MRI have gained acceptance over the years especially in the medical field. It is expected that continuous attempts to improve will eventually make it possible to scan the whole body in just a few minutes. MRI is a good technique used as a guide for some internal surgeries. Patients with brain damage and needs to be examined thoroughly benefits a lot from this technique. MRI gives exact and accurate photos of the parts being scanned and can do variations in the contrast unlike other scanning methods.

Some studies make an effort to make more flexible equipments wherein the patient does not have to go inside the cylindrical magnet. The potential of MRI have already been proven through years of continuous study and the developments done. MRI scanners are now offered n many hospitals all over the world.

Reference:

  • Leslie G. Ungerleider. Functional Brain Imaging Studies of Cortical Mechanisms for Memory. Science 3 November 1995: Vol. 270. no. 5237, pp. 769 - 775 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/
  • Feeney J. (1996). Magnetic Resonance Imaging - A Window into the Human Body
  • Schiffman H.R (2001). Sensation and Perception An Integrated Approach 5th Ed. Rutgers, The State University. Pp. 151-158
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