Brief Guide To Learn About The Working Of An MRI Scanner


MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. Scanners based on MRI technology makes use of strong radio waves and magnetic fields. These scanners interact with protons to form a signal that when processed, develops body images. Let us understand working of an MRI scanner to learn more about this technology.

How did MRI technology originate?

MRI technology got invented in the year 1971 by Paul Lauterbur. Sir Peter Mansfield later developed this technique. The first MRI scan that was done was of the human body in the year 1977. The results were effective and identified several conditions that afflicted a patient such as a tumor in the chest, bone cancer and an abnormal liver.

Working of an MRI scanner

The protons or hydrogen atoms act as small bar magnets. Generally, these protons are arranged in a random manner. On application of a strong magnetic field, these protons get aligned with the field.

When a radio wave pulse gets applied at a specific frequency, it stimulates the protons. The frequency of radio wave that results in the resonation of protons depends on the magnetic field strength. ANeuroquant MRIuses gradient electric coils that vary with the strength of the magnetic field all across the body.

This frequency causes them to resonate and even disturb the magnetic arrangement. The protons that got stimulated release the energy that they absorbed as a radio frequency. This emission of energy is received by a receiver coil present in the scanner.

This implies that different parts of the body resonate at varying frequencies. So, by application of varying frequencies in series, you can easily distinguish the different parts of the body and build a final picture.

MRI scanners require very strong magnetic fields i.e., around 1.5 Tesla. It can be as large as 7 Tesla. Multiple sequences of radio pulse are used to suppress or highlight certain types of tissue in the body.

How MRI scanning is superior to other technologies?

MRI is mostly used in the diagnosis of medical condition. As opposed to prominent medical examination technologies like CT scans and X-rays, this technology does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation. This is a very important benefit offered by MRI scanning technology over both the technologies.

What are the applications of MRI technology?

MRI scanners are observed to be beneficial for neurological scanning. They are excellent in performing visualization of tiny tumors, epilepsy, dementia, and other kind of conditions related to the nervous system.

An MRI scan takes around 15 to 90 minutes to be generated. This time period depends on the scan area and the number of images that need to be taken. The machines used in performing the scanning are very noisy and can also generate sounds like that of a jet engine.


MRI scanning is a highly effective imaging technique that helps in investigation of the body. This technology can help you get effective results when performed with proper safety precautions. As the high magnetic fields are involved, provision of strict safety measures is needed in the vicinity of the machines to prevent fatalities.