Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to study internal soft tissue structures in detail. It provides good contrast between the different types of tissue, which is a major advantage over CT. MRI does not use ionising radiation unlike CT or traditional X-rays. Instead it uses a powerful magnetic field to align tissue atoms, and then uses radiofrequency fields to change and record their alignment. This scanned information is then used to construct images of specific parts of the body. The commonest indication for an MRI scan is an inner ear hearing loss in one ear or a worse hearing ear to exclude the possibility of an underlying acoustic neuroma.
The patient lies still on a couch with their head in a metal tube. Some patients find this enclosed experience unpleasant, which has resulted in the development of so-called “open scanners”.