You Want a MRI With That?

Little confession from your NYC podiatrist.  I’m not in NYC.  Down in the sunshine state, keeping away from all yeast which in this case includes both leavening and fungus.  But even during downtime, I know my audience demands another informative and entertaining blog, and it seems the gods of SEO also expect their weekly keyword offerings.  So at the risk of covering something y’all don’t want to hear about, let’s talk about a miracle of modern medicine - magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI (no I didn’t coin that acronym. I would have called it energetic resonance nuclear excitability study of Tesla, or ERNEST).

First invented in 1971, same year as your NYC podiatrist, the first commercial MRI unit was produced in 1980, and since that time has become the imaging modality of choice for many different applications, including musculoskeletal.  I’ll leave the physics to the physicists, but in short an MRI works by utilizing a large magnet to excite the hydrogen atoms in water molecules in the body, and the energy emitted is then detected and measured.

The two types of images most useful in musculoskeletal applications display fat signals in normal, anatomic tissue, and water signals in damaged or inflamed tissue.  Increased water signal in tissue indicates inflammation, and can be observed in fractures, sprains, tears, tendonitis and arthritis.  The images are displayed in 3 planes of vision, in small slices.  All tissues can be visualized including bone, muscle, tendon and ligament, making this a very good way to determine or confirm a diagnosis.  I use MRI relatively often in the office, but try to limit it to cases in which I am not entirely sure of a diagnosis or the severity of a condition or injury.  And like any other advanced imaging modality, the images are only beneficial if there is a practical application, for example determining a type or duration of treatment.

Well, hopefully that is somewhat helpful and not entirely boring. If you have unexplained foot or ankle pain or injuries, or a condition that doesn’t seem to be responding to conventional treatment, an advanced imaging modality may be of utility.  Consider getting an ERNEST.

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson

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