Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique that uses magnetic field and radio waves to generate images of the body. It can produce detailed images of the body organs in thin sections and 3-dimensional views.

Unlike X-ray and computed tomography (CT) scans, MRI:

  • Is a painless and non-invasive diagnostic tool
  • Does not involve radiation
  • Does not have any known side or after effects
  • Can be performed on different parts of the body, but is commonly used in imaging the nervous system and soft tissues like the heart

Comparing MRI with other magnetic resonance imaging tests

Other types of magnetic resonance imaging tests include magnetic resonance arthrography and cardiac magnetic resonance angiography (cardiac MRA).

Magnetic resonance arthrography shows better images than an MRI. A contrast solution called gadolinium is given to swell the joint, outline joint structures and show any soft tissue tears and defects.

Cardiac MRA produces high-resolution images of your heart and nearby blood vessels:

  • The detailed information provided can help explain or clarify the results of other tests, such as CT scans and X-rays
  • In some cases, a special contrast dye, may be added to your bloodstream to make your blood vessels easier to see

Your doctor may ask for a cardiac MRA:

  • To find the cause of heart failure
  • To identify tissue damage due to a heart attack
  • If they believe that you are at risk for heart failure or other heart diseases

Why do you need an MRI?

An MRI scan produces superior images in imaging soft tissues as compared to other imaging modalities.

MRI is widely used in diagnosing various diseases and disorders related to:

MRI can detect:

  • Brain tumours
  • Dementia
  • Developmental anomalies
  • Infection
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Other causes of headache

Vascular disease

MRI can detect:

  • Aneurysms
  • Arteriovenous malformations
  • Blockages of the blood vessels
  • Carotid artery disease

Spine and musculoskeletal disorders

MRI is sensitive to changes in cartilage and bone structure resulting from injury, disease or ageing.

It can detect:

Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate imaging option for you based on your symptoms.

Benefits of an MRI scan

An MRI procedure provides the following benefits:

  • It is a safer and non-invasive alternative to a X-ray angiography for the diagnosis of diseases of the heart and the brain.
  • It is used to find and evaluate injuries to soft tissues, joints and spine.
  • It helps in the planning and preparation of certain surgeries including awake craniotomy (brain surgery to remove brain lesions) and deep brain stimulation surgery.

What are the risks and complications of an MRI?

Some MRI risks include:

  • An undetected metal implant which may be affected by the strong magnetic field.
  • Possible effects on early pregnancy. MRI is generally avoided in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Unless there is a strong medical reason to use MRI, your doctor may use other methods of imaging, such as ultrasound, on you if you are pregnant.

Why choose Mount Elizabeth Hospitals?

At Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, we have built a reputation for quality diagnostic radiology and imaging treatment in Singapore and the region.

Our team of specialised radiologists and radiographers are experienced in treating a wide spectrum of patients with various conditions.

By providing high standards of MRI diagnostic imaging, we aid clinicians to better diagnose and manage patients' medical conditions.

Estimated cost

Private healthcare can be affordable. Use our Hospital Bill Estimator to determine the estimated cost of this procedure. If you have hospital insurance, find out how you can use your insurance.

Our diagnostic radiologists

At Mount Elizabeth Hospitals, we are supported by a team of professionally-trained radiologists adept in delivering quality MRI diagnosis as part of patient care and management.

This page has been reviewed by our medical content reviewers.

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