Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems transformed medical imaging, and they continue to provide doctors with greater insight into patients’ conditions and, subsequently, improved methods and effectiveness of treatment. High-powered magnets make those images possible.
While the name itself indicates the central role of magnetic material in the MRI system, the sheer volume of the magnets used is astounding. The average MRI machine uses nearly 1,500 pounds of magnets, which fully surround the tube through which patients are examined. Using a combination of magnetic fields and radio frequencies, along with the natural polarity of the hydrogen molecules that make up much of the human body, MRI machines are able to produce detailed, targeted images.
Additionally, the rare earth gadolinium is used as a contrasting agent in MRI scans. For example, a solution containing gadolinium can be administered so that doctors can scan and better understand vascular structures and blood flow.