Craig Morriss, M.D. Answers Questions On: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
What types of neurological conditions is MRI used for?
MRI uses a powerful magnet and radio waves – not X-rays – to produce highly detailed images of the body’s organs and soft tissues.
It depends on which disease process we’re evaluating, but MRI is becoming the gold standard for imaging many neurological disease processes, including brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, and developmental abnormalities.
We also use MRI to scan neonatal (newborn) patients who have suffered birth-related hypoxic-ischemic (oxygen-deprivation) injuries.
And we use MRI to evaluate children with sensorineural hearing loss – examining the cochlea and cochlear nerve to determine if they’re candidates for cochlear implants.
What do you do to ensure the safety of patients with implanted electronic devices when they must undergo MRI?
There are several concerns when considering MRI for patients with implanted electronic devices, which is why safety is paramount.
These complex devices typically contain metal, which can be attracted to the MRI magnet and/or become extremely hot when exposed to MRI radio waves. MRI also can interact with the electronics of these devices – turning them off or causing them to function erratically.
We work very closely with our appropriate specialist colleagues and go to every length possible to determine if we can safely scan patients who need MR imaging. If we can do it, we do, and our program has never had a safety accident.
Please share an example of what you do as the MRI safety officer at Children’s.
Just this morning I got a call from one of our nurses who was with a child who was there for an MRI but who has an implanted vagal nerve stimulator.
We spent more than 30 minutes making sure the device was turned off, that it contained no broken wires or other potentially problematic issues, and that the child could safely undergo MRI.
By taking the time to contact me, that nurse made a difference in the patient’s life by making sure he was safe and that we weren’t going to hurt him.