Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is performed using a specialized scanner, a patient table, systems that generate radio waves and magnetic fields, and a computer workstation. The scanner, which is usually shaped like a large rectangle with a hole in the center, contains the systems that generate the magnetic field. A motorized and computer-controlled patient table moves into the scanner’s center hole during the scan. A technologist operates the MRI scanner from an adjacent control room that contains a computer system and an intercom system for communicating with the patient during the scan.
The images from an MRI examination are called slices, because they are acquired in very small (millimeter-size) sections of the body. The image slices are displayed on a computer monitor for viewing or printed as a film. A specialist called a radiologist interprets the images produced during the MRI examination. For emergency scans, images are interpreted immediately so that the child can be treated quickly. For non-urgent outpatient MRI scans, the radiologist interprets the images and sends a report to the referring physician within a few days.