With MRI, Tesla matters. Find out why here.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a method of looking inside the body using magnetism and radio waves to produce remarkably clear pictures of the body, such as brain, spine, and joints.  An MRI scanner consists of a strong magnet with a radio transmitter and receiver.  MRI produces soft-tissue images and is used to distinguish normal, healthy soft tissue from pathologic (diseased) tissue.

ACR Gold Seal

Big Sky utilizes a 3 Tesla (3T) MRI system which refers to the field strength of the magnet.  3T MRI provides the highest quality, most accurate diagnostic images.  There are many small structures in the body and it is important for physicians to be able to see them with as much detail as possible.

MRI is commonly used to look at the brain, spine and nerves, joints such as shoulders and knees, blood vessels such as the carotid arteries, breasts, and abdominal organs such as the liver.

ACR Gold Seal

In some circumstances, a contrast agent (gadolinium) is injected to give the radiologist more information about a specific body part as it looks at the blood flow to a particular area of interest.

Big Sky’s MRI scanner is accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR) which means that the facility meets requirements for equipment, medical personnel and quality assurance.  ACR Accreditation is considered the gold standard in medical imaging accreditation.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)

Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a special technique used to look at blood vessels in the body.  This technique suppresses soft tissue and bony structures so that the blood vessels of interest are seen without obstruction. This is commonly used for looking at vessels in the brain (Circle of Willis) and neck (Carotid arteries), but can be used for other vessels as well.

Magnetic Resonance Arthography

MRI arthrography is used to view the space in between joints.  A radiologist injects contrast material (gadolinium) in the joint space prior to the MRI scan.  The contrast material appears bright and can often help the radiologist better differentiate certain conditions.  The technique is most often used in the shoulder and hip joints.

Quantitative Brain MRI

Traditional brain MRI gives great qualitative information, but can sometimes leave quantitative questions unanswered. Utilizing 3D processing software, Quantitative Brain MRI can provide volumetric analysis for the whole brain and individual brain structures along with lesion quantification for MS patients. For degenerative diseases, this makes tracking progression much more objective, similar to tracking lab values. Volumetric measurements are compared to age-adjusted normative values to provide percentiles for each value.

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) procedures most commonly involve collecting data for brain structures, however Spectroscopy can be utilized for collecting data in other body structures or organs. MRS utilizes techniques to evaluate the metabolite composition within a given tissue. This information can help physicians determine if the metabolic activity suggests a disease process that may or may not be evident on routine images.

Breast MRI

Recent studies have shown 3T MRI to have a 100% sensitivity for detecting breast cancer, which is “more sensitive than mammography and sonography in the detection of breast cancer and the characterization of small lesions.” 1

Breast MRI is a useful tool for a number of patients.  The first patient is one that has a known breast cancer (via mammography, etc.).  Breast MRI is used pre-operatively to determine the extent of the disease and check for more extensive disease.  Surgeons can use the data gathered from the MRI study to determine resection margins.

The second patient Breast MRI is useful for is one that has a high risk for developing breast cancer.  There are certain guidelines for using Breast MRI as a screening tool.  Women who would qualify for a Breast MRI screening:

  • Approximately 20-25% or greater lifetime risk (Click here for a risk assesment tool)
  • BRCA1, BRCA2, PTEN, or TP53 mutation
  • First-degree relative with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, even if they have yet to be tested themselves
  • Radiation treatments to the chest between the ages of 10-30
  • Patients with Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or may have one of these syndromes based on a history in a first-degree relative

The third patient Breast MRI is useful for is one that has silicone breast implants.  The FDA has recommended biannual screening of implants after year three.  The screening is to check the integrity of the implant.

Talk with your physician or call Big Sky Diagnostic Imaging for more information about Breast MRI and if you qualify.

1 (Elsamaloty H, Elzawawi MS, Mohammad S, et al. Increasing accuracy of detection of breast cancer with 3-T MRI. AJR 2009; 192:1142-1148).

Gravity Scan

GravityScan is a type of lumbar MRI scanning that simulates the effects of gravity on a patient’s lumbar spine. GravityScan helps to provide the most accurate diagnostic pictures to correlate clinical symptoms with MRI findings.  When ordered, GravityScan is included with a standard lumbar MRI at Big Sky for no extra cost.

GravityScan is ideal for patients who present clinically with neurogenic claudication, sciatica, and/or radiculopathy.

Contraindications for GravityScan are:

  • Recent trauma to the spine, chest, shoulders, foot or ankle
  • Metastatic disease of the spine
  • Severe cardiopulmonary disease
  • Known or suspected severe osteoporosis
  • History of drug abuse