A chest MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, also referred to as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), is an imaging test that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the chest, or thoracic, area.
Why is Chest MRI usd for?
MR imaging of the chest is performed for the following.
- To assess abnormal masses, including cancer of the lungs or other tissues, which either cannot be assessed adequately with other imaging modalities (typically CT) or which are particularly well-suited to MR imaging.
- To determine tumour size, extent and the degree of spread to adjacent structures.
- To assess the anatomy and function of the heart and its component structures (valves, etc.).
- To determine blood flow dynamics in the vessels and heart chambers.
- To diagnose the disorders of the chest bones (vertebrae, ribs and sternum) and chest wall soft tissue (muscles and fat).
- To assess myocardial perfusion (blood flow to the heart) and myocardial infarct (scar in the heart muscle due to prior obstruction of blood flow).
- To diagnose pericardial (thin sac around the heart) disease.
- Characterize mediastinal or pleural lesions seen by other imaging modalities, such as chest x-ray or CT.
A chest MRI may show a tumour, problems in the blood vessels (such as an aneurysm or blood clot), abnormal lymph nodes and other chest conditions. Currently, MRI is not considered a valuable tool for spotting or monitoring slight changes in lung tissue, since the lungs contain mostly air and are difficult to image.