What is an MRI

What is an MRI and why did my doctor order it?

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging study, allows an inside look into your knee or shoulder.

Here at Stetson Powell we have our own MRI Scanner in our office which allows our patients to have their MRI’s done and then often times seeing their doctor right away for an immediate diagnosis. Our MRI scans are also read by a team of musculoskeletal radiologists lead by Dr. Gregory Applegate.

An MRI is not an x-ray and so does not use radiation but rather uses a special magnet imaging system to see what x-rays cannot show us. It is the best test we have to determine what if anything is wrong with your knee or shoulder. Using these test results will allow us to make a better diagnosis and together we will make a plan to return you to full health and vitality.

If you are claustrophobic, an open MRI can be done but does not give us nearly the same detail as a regular or closed MRI. The size of the magnet used in an MRI determines the quality of the pictures and the detail which can be seen. A regular MRI is five times stronger than an open MRI and so whenever possible, we recommend a regular MRI.

If you are having a shoulder MRI, we sometimes use a special technique of introducing a special dye into your shoulder before the procedure. This gives us a much more detailed picture of your shoulder and allows us to make a correct diagnosis of your shoulder condition. It does require a small injection of local anesthetic into the shoulder joint followed by a small amount of dye. This is done by qualified radiologists using special equipment.

I recently did a research project on this technique which has been presented to orthopaedic surgeons here in the United States and also internationally. It was recently published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (December, 2005, volume 87-A) and the article is here for your interest (618 K PDF file). This is the premier journal of orthopaedic surgery and I am honored to have my research accepted by such a prestigious journal.