Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
MGHS Library for Teachers MGHS Library Resources MGHS Library Guides MGHS Library Catalog MGHS Answers MGHS Library

Medical Miracles: MRI

Meet your guide...

Hailey Romuald is undecided about her future career as of now, but will be attending The Ohio State University in the fall of 2016. Although she has not personally gotten a MRI, her father has told her all about his that he got for his shoulder surgery. 

Magnetic Renaissance Imaging (MRI)

Medical Miracle

A MRI is a machine that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create intricate images of organs and tissues within the body. Common MRI machines are shaped like large tubes. Once the patient lies in the machine, the magnetic field realigns hydrogen atoms in the body. Radio waves cause these aligned atoms to produce very faint signals which then create the cross sectional MRI images. In addition, the MRI can produce 3D images that are able to be viewed from multiple angles. Doctors can examine the organs, tissues and skeletal system from an MRI. The images that are produced allow doctors to diagnose a variety of problems. MRIs are typically done on the brain and spinal cord. They frequently diagnose aneurysms, disorders of the eye and inner ear, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, strokes and tumors. To learn more basic information about the MRI go to Mayo Clinic.

(Image of MRI)

Significant Discovery

Paul Lauterbur first used the basic principles of magnetic renaissance imaging about 45 years ago on September 2, 1971. This discovery was extremely significant to the medical field since it was the first time people could look into the body non-invasively. The extremely quick paced medical field has developed Lauterbur’s basic ideas into the MRIs that are currently present in the world. For this discovery, Paul Lauterbur shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology in Medicine in 2003. Learn more about Paul Lauterbur's discovery at Access Science and The MIT Press.

Social Impact


-Does not use radiation (safe for kids and pregnant women)

-Provides detailed images of body tissues and organs



-Attracts metal objects

-Can cause heart pacemakers, defibrillation devices, and cochlear implants to malfunction

-Contrast dye can cause allergic reactions

-Lengthy procedure


-Many jobs have been created from the MRI

-Training program length varies from 1-4 years based on level of training

-There can be human error when performing scans
ETHICAL -MRIs are typically covered by insurance

-Not all MRIs are covered by insurance and not everyone has healthcare to cover the cost of MRIs

-Not everyone has access to MRIs


-Lower chances of getting radiation poisoning

-No known long term health risks

-Patients with kidney diseases are not completely able to expel the contrast agent from their bodies

-Potential allergic reactions from contrast agents

-May be risks to the fetus that are unknown at this time

ECONOMIC -Most MRIs are covered by insurance

-People without healthcare will pay on average $2,611 for a MRI scan

-Some MRIs are not covered by insurance

All in all, the MRI scan is a very safe procedure with many positive effects coming from it. The main negative concern of the MRI is the cost since it is not covered by all health insurances or if someone does not have health insurance. 

Emerging Innovations

One emerging technology is the open MRI. The open MRI differs from the standard MRI as the open MRI is a large ring that patients pass through for an exam while the closed MRI completely surrounds a patient during an exam. The open MRI is beneficial for people who are claustrophobic, larger people who may not fit in the standard MRI, young kids or old people that need a loved one to accompany them, or patients that need a scan of an extremity such as the hand, wrist, foot or shoulder that is typically hard to image in the standard MRI. Not all clinics have open MRIs as of now, but they should become more prevalent in the future due to their tremendous benefits. Another emerging technology is the standing or sitting MRI. These machines allow patients to stand or sit during their examinations. This technique is beneficial since it provides even more comfort to patients, but they do not provide as high of quality images that the closed and open MRIs do. As of now, the standing or sitting MRI is rare since it is only used in specific instances. The standing or sitting MRI should become more prevalent in the future when the image quality increases. Learn more about the standing or sitting MRI at Fonar.

Open MRi 

(Images of an open MRI and a standing/sitting MRI)

Future Directions

I see the MRI developing even further to become more beneficial in the future. Some people are skeptical of brain MRIs and feel like there is a better way. Alan Jasanoff has engineered tiny magnets that group together in the presence of calcium. His work will hopefully give researchers a more detailed picture of what is happening in the brain at a cellular level. When brain cells fire, they release chemicals to communicate with each other. While doing so, they absorb a lot of calcium. Alan Jasanoff is trying to introduce magnets into the brain so they will show up as darker spots on MRI scans. Since this will help us know more about what is going on in the brain at a cellular level, doctors will better be able to treat certain brain orders such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy. To learn more about Alan Jasanoff and his studies go to Indiana Public Media. Another MRI technique that is still being studied is a diffusion-weighted MRI with EPI. This technique is extremely useful for assessing tumor cellularity and the grading of a malignant tumor of the glial tissue of the nervous system since a typical MRI cannot do this. Learn more about this at Kumamoto University.Finally, more contrast agents are in the process of being developed as imaging agents for high-resolution pH and metabolic mapping in living animals along with genetically encoded MRI contrast agents. Some of these have been validated in the brain, while others are still being researched. Learn more about this at Science Direct. All in all, I see the MRI developing in many different ways in the future.

What do you think?

KEEP Have you ever gotten an MRI?
Yes I have.: 2 votes (40%)
No, but one of my family members has.: 1 votes (20%)
No, but I have a friend that has.: 1 votes (20%)
No I have not.: 1 votes (20%)
Total Votes: 5

What MRI is right for you?

If you are in need of an MRI, learn more about all of the different types of MRIs and which one is right for you at Two Views


This video will demonstrate what it is like to get an MRI along with some of the features of an MRI. Click play!


Learn More...

These are the resources I used to create this guide, check them out for more information!

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

Answers| Catalog | Guides | Resources | Teachers