Physics and MRI
Healthcare today takes advantage of many different technologies to provide the best outcome for patients. Having scientific knowledge of how these mechanisms work helps students to better understand the equipment and its use in medical and research settings. Learning from an expert in the field provides valuable insight on what to expect in a real world setting. For this course, students watch a series of short videos in which an experienced professional describes their use of the device and the physics behind it. Homework and lab activities focus on the following topics:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) utilizes a sophisticated device to produce high resolution images that allow for detection of small changes of structures within the body. Due to high image quality, MR images are often used to scan the brain, musculoskeletal system, and are useful for imaging cardiac function. These images can help doctors confirm a diagnosis as well as detect abnormalities. MRI entails no ionizing radiation; instead, powerful magnets and radiofrequency pulses alter the alignment of hydrogen atoms. Since images are produced utilizing magnetic fields and radio waves, these images do not capture information about the density of the tissue and therefore may limit the use of MRI in developing treatment plans. Although MR scanners are considered safe, the long-term effects of exposure to high field strength magnets are as yet unknown.
In the YouTube video series above, OHSU's Dr. Guimaraes examines the physics behind MRI and describes how magnetic fields, radio frequency, and the absorption of energy by protons, work together to provide a valuable tool for healthcare professionals and researchers.