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Introduced as a diagnostic medical imaging tool in the 1980’s, magnetic resonance uses magnetism, radio waves and computers to acquire medical images. Although still a young technology, it has become firmly rooted in medical practice, particularly for:

  • Studying the cardiovascular system
  • Detecting tumours, especially in the brain and spinal column
  • Studying body chemistry and functions
  • Imaging soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons or arteries

The unique nature of this technology presents special imaging, patient care, and safety requirements. Since magnetic resonance does not involve the use of ionizing radiation, radiation protection is unnecessary. However, patients must remove any metal objects that could be drawn to the magnet. Patients with pacemakers, or other metallic implants, cannot undergo magnetic resonance scans because of the potential for damage to such devices.

Claustrophobia can be a problem for certain patients. Magnetic resonance scans require sliding the patient into a body-length tunnel – the core of the magnetic field.

As part of their professional duty, magnetic resonance technologists:

  • EXPLAIN the procedure to patients.
  • ANSWER questions as fully as possible.
  • OPERATE the scanner.
  • MONITOR patients during the scan.
  • COMFORT patients and provide emotional support.
  • ENSURE the safety of patients and staff around the magnetic field.
  • CONTRIBUTE to patient education.

Some magnetic resonance procedures require the use of contrast agents. The image obtained from magnetic resonance scan generally appears on a computer monitor, or as a photograph or computer printout

This information was provided through permission from the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists.

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Last updated on: November 17th, 2016