What are the different types of MRI scans and tests?

There are various types of MRI scans that may be ordered by your doctor.

MRI of veins in head
A Head MRI can look at the brain for tumors, an aneurysm, bleeding in the brain, nerve injury, and other problems, such as damage caused by a stroke. A head MRI can also find problems of the eyes and optic nerves, and the ears and auditory nerves.

A Chest MRI can look at the heart, the heart valves, and coronary blood vessels. It can show if the heart or lungs are damaged. An MRI of the chest may also be used to look for breast or lung cancer. These can also be ordered after a mammogram exam has been given to see areas of the breast tissue in more detail.

MRA or magnetic resonance angiography is a type of magnetic resonance image (MRI) scan. MRI scans are used to look at blood vessels, and the flow of blood through them is called magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). MRA scans can find problems of the arteries and veins, such as an aneurysm, a blocked blood vessel, or the torn lining of a blood vessel (dissection). Sometimes contrast material is used to see the blood vessels more clearly. Like an MRI, magnetic resonance angiograms (MRA) use a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of blood vessels inside the body.

Abdomen and pelvis MRI scans can find problems in the organs and structures in the belly, such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder. They can be used to find tumors, bleeding, infection, and blockage. In women, MRI scans can look at the uterus and ovaries. In men, they can look at the prostate.

MRI of spine
Bone and joint MRIs can check for problems such as arthritis, problems with the temporomandibular joint, bone marrow problems, bone tumors, cartilage problems, torn ligaments or tendons, or infection. These MRI scans may also be used to tell if a bone is broken when X-ray results are not clear. MRI scans are done more commonly than other tests to check for some bone and joint problems.

A Spine MRI can check the discs and nerves of the spine for conditions such as spinal stenosis, disc bulges, and spinal tumors.


GOOD SOURCES FOR FURTHER READING: Dictionary of Medical Terms, 4th Edition, from A&C Black Publishers Ltd., Grey's Anatomy, The Classic Collector's Edition, by Henry Gray, Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, Second Edition by Mayo Clinic, Howard Gallager, Mayo Foundation, Women's Health, Men's Health and Health for Seniors all by Professor Peter Abrahams, the National Cancer Institute, the American Medical Association, the National Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Radiology.