Knowing when an MRI scan can help

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When your doctor advises a diagnostic scan to decide on suitable courses of treatment for illness or injury, it can be nerve-wracking. It is difficult not to assume the worst, although even if the news isn’t good, modern diagnostic scanners such as MRI machines can give specialists and surgeons such a clear picture of how to proceed that you will have the very best chance of a successful and quick recovery.

MRI scans are particularly effective for getting a clear picture of what’s going on with soft tissues, including vital organs and the brain, as well as being used to diagnose bone, ligament and joint problems. Although they can be used in a similar way to a conventional x-ray machine in terms of diagnostics, MRI scanners are more commonly used when it’s important to see any tumours or other abnormalities with soft tissues.

The MRI scanner isn’t just there to detect cancer; in fact, it is a highly effective tool to determine the severity of a stroke or heart attack, and to help make decisions on treatment. For example, it can provide a clear picture on changes within the brain that suggest bleeding or oxygen starvation, which can be essential for specialists to decide on an appropriate course of action. Patients who have had heart attacks, or who are in need of coronary bypass treatment can get a clear picture of what needs to be done in terms of continuing therapy.

An MRI scan is associated in the minds of most people with diagnosing cancer, however, and it is true that it’s an effective tool for ascertaining whether tumours have changed in size, or whether they have spread to other tissue within the body. The differences between normal and abnormal tissue are far clearer with an MRI scan than with a CT scan, for example, and it can even be clear what might be a malignant tumour, and what is an otherwise benign cyst.

Not everyone can have an MRI scan, unfortunately – for example, anyone with metal in their body, even relatively small amounts which may have been picked up in certain jobs, should declare this to the specialist carrying out the scan. You will be given a questionnaire to answer, and women who might be pregnant should also note that an MRI scan may not be right for them. The scan can also be quite difficult for people who suffer from claustrophobia, although you will be offered sedation should you think you need it.

If you have health concerns and think that paying privately for HCA MRI scans might give you some information either to take back to your own doctor or continue with private specialist treatment, then it’s worth paying for simply to have peace of mind. For many conditions diagnosed by an MRI scan, speed of treatment is crucial, and will get you back to your best as soon as possible.

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