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MR of the Arms, Legs, and Joints - Benefits and Risks

Benefits

  • A MR scan is a noninvasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation.
  • MR images are more likely in some instances to identify and accurately characterize diseases than other imaging methods. This detail makes MRI an invaluable tool in early diagnosis and evaluation of many focal lesions and tumors.
  • MR imaging has proven valuable in diagnosing a broad range of conditions.
  • A MR scan enables the discovery of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone with other imaging methods.
  • The contrast material used in MRI exams is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based contrast materials used for conventional x-rays and CT scanning.

Risks

  • The MRI examination poses almost no risk to the average patient.
  • If sedation is used, there are risks of excessive sedation.
  • Although the strong magnetic field is not harmful in itself, implanted medical devices that contain metal may malfunction or cause problems during an MRI exam.
  • There is a very slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected.
  • Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is currently a recognized, but rare, complication of MRI believed to be caused by the injection of high doses of gadolinium contrast material in patients with very poor kidney function.