Technology has revolutionised the world and is continuously improving our lives. In the medical world, technology is a necessity. The advances in technology have improved the quality of medical care. A study in 1995 observed that in ten Brazilian medical-surgical ICU’s (Intensive Care Units) concluded that the reduction in the mortality rate was directly related to the amount of technology available in these hospitals.
For example, the creation of the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) has improved findings in malignant diseases and as a result saved hundreds of thousands of lives. An MRI machine is a non-invasive – does not penetrate the body, via an injection or incision – medical imaging technique used in radiology to visualise in detail- the structure of the body.
The first MRI machine was built in 1977 by Doctor Raymond V. Damadian and called the ‘Indomitable’, the name was meant to capture the spirit of their struggle what many had said was impossible. The first MRI examination on a human- was performed on the 3rd of July 1977. This scan took almost five hours to produce one basic image of the body.
The MRI Machine was originally named the NMRI machine, with the N standing for Nuclear, however because the word nuclear was associated in the public’s mind with ionizing radiation exposure, Doctor Damadian referred to the device as an MRI and not NMRI.
How do these MRI machines operate?
A strong magnetic field is created by passing an electric current through the wire loops in the MRI machine. While this is happening, other coils in the magnet send and receive radio waves. These waves trigger protons in the body to align. Once aligned, radio waves are absorbed by the protons and this stimulates the spinning process. This then releases the molecules, which in turn emits energy signals that are picked up by the coil. This information is sent to a computer which processes all the signals and generates an image.
What about the advantages of an MRI machine?
One of the major advantages of the MRI machine is the ability it has to diagnose illnesses in their early stages, therefore improving the chance of a successful treatment and recovery program.
Another advantage is that the MRI machine unlike Computed Axial Tomography (CAT) scans- is the ability to view images in any plane. Furthermore, an MRI machine does not use radiation to scan the body.
What about the disadvantages of an MRI machine?
The major disadvantage of this machine is its limitations. People with pacemakers are unable to use this machine. Also people who are morbidly obese are unable to use this machine.
Furthermore, people who have a kidney disease and are unaware of it are likely to develop an incurable condition called Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis (NSF) from the MRI dye injection. NSF cases hardening or stiffening of the skin and joints.
Overall, MRI scans have been vitally useful in the medical world. MRI scans provide two- and three-dimensional images that aid doctors in diagnosing illnesses. Furthermore, these machines can help detect any abnormalities, in the body, that can lead to malignant tumors or cancer. Detecting illnesses in the early stages allows patients to both save money on treatment plans and have more treatment options available to choose from.