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The Physics Behind an MRI


krdavis18

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This week on Wednesday, I had to get an MRI for my knee to make sure everything was ok after I injured myself playing soccer a couple weeks earlier. While I was there, I was very curious about how the whole process worked and how it relates to physics so I did some research and here is what I found.

In an article from medicalnewstoday.com titled MRI Scans: All You Need To Know by Peter Lam, I learned that "an MRI scanner contains two powerful magnets" and "upon entering an MRI scanner, the first magnet causes the body's water molecules to align in one direction, either north or south." So this is why I had to take off my earrings before going into the scanner because otherwise it would've been attracted to the magnet and cause problems. 

I then learned that "the second magnetic field is then turned on and off in a series of quick pulses, causing each hydrogen atom to alter its alignment and then quickly switch back to its original relaxed state when switched off. The magnetic field is created by passing electricity  through gradient coils, which also cause the coils to vibrate, resulting in a knocking sound inside the scanner." This would explain why the machine was so loud and I had to wear headphones to block out the noise. But luckily, I got to listen to some country music to block out the sound of the banging. 

The scanner then detects these changes "and, in conjunction with a computer, cman create a detailed cross-sectional image for the radiologist to interpret." Lucky for me, my MRI showed that my knee looked very good and my injury was most likely a bone bruise. 

MRI's are very helpful tools for diagnosing patients and getting a better look inside the human body and I can appreciate knowing a little bit more about how they work!

Visit: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146309.php to read the full article. 

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This was a really awesome read! It reminds me of a video I saw a few weeks back, and while it isn't as informative, the experiments are really cool. The power these magnets have is simply incredible...

 

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