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What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)? What are its principles and applications?

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What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)? What are its principles and applications?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that utilizes powerful magnetic fields, radio frequency pulses, and computer technology to generate detailed images of the internal structure of the human body. The principle of MRI is to use the resonance phenomenon of atomic nuclei under the action of an external magnetic field and radio frequency pulses, in order to obtain anatomical information of the human body interior. MRI has the advantages of high resolution, non-invasive, and radiation free, and is widely used in clinical medical diagnosis, scientific research, and medical engineering.


1、 MRI Principles

Basic Principles
The basic principle of MRI is based on the phenomenon of nuclear resonance. When an atomic nucleus is subjected to an external magnetic field, resonance occurs, where the nucleus absorbs energy and produces a specific vibration frequency. By changing the frequency and intensity of the magnetic field, the resonance state of atomic nuclei can be controlled, thereby achieving manipulation of atomic nuclei.
In the MRI system, the patient is first placed in a stable magnetic field, causing the hydrogen nuclei in their body to be in a resonant state. Then, a radio frequency pulse is applied to cause the hydrogen nucleus to transition from a resonant state to another energy level. Between these two energy levels, the atomic nucleus releases electromagnetic waves of a specific frequency, which propagate in space and are captured by the receiver. By analyzing the properties of these electromagnetic waves, the structural image of the human body can be reconstructed.
Gradient coil and RF coil
The MRI system mainly consists of gradient coils, radio frequency coils, receivers, computers, etc. Gradient coils are used to generate a uniform magnetic field, and their working principle is achieved by superposition of magnetic fields between two mutually perpendicular coils. Gradient coils are usually divided into three directions: X-axis, Y-axis, and Z-axis, and the magnetic field intensity in each direction can be changed by adjusting the current in the coil.
Radio frequency coils are used to generate radio frequency pulses, and their working principle is achieved by modulating the frequency of alternating current in the coil. The energy of the radio frequency pulse determines the strength of the magnetic resonance signal, so the strength of the signal can be controlled by adjusting the frequency of the radio frequency pulse.
Spatial encoding technology
In order to improve the spatial resolution of MRI images, researchers have developed a technique called "spatial encoding". Spatial encoding is a data processing method based on multiple gradient echo sequences, which can improve the spatial resolution of images by weighting and combining signals from different positions. The main advantage of spatial encoding technology is that it can obtain higher resolution images without increasing scanning time.

2、 MRI application

Clinical Medical Diagnosis
MRI is widely used in clinical medical diagnosis, such as brain diseases (such as tumors, bleeding, infarction, etc.), spinal diseases (such as intervertebral disc herniation, myelitis, etc.), joint diseases (such as fractures, arthritis, etc.), cardiovascular diseases (such as myocardial infarction, pericardial effusion, etc.), etc. In addition, MRI can also be used for prenatal examination to evaluate the growth and development of the fetus.
scientific research
The applications of MRI in scientific research mainly include biophysical research, materials science research, geophysical research, etc. For example, MRI can be used to study structural changes and molecular dynamics processes within cells; In the field of materials science, MRI can be used to study the microstructure and properties of materials; In the field of geophysics, MRI can be used to study the structure and composition distribution of the Earth's interior.
Medical Engineering
The application of MRI in the field of medical engineering mainly includes equipment development and maintenance, clinical training, and education. The development of MRI equipment needs to involve technologies such as magnetic circuit design, coil manufacturing, and data processing; In clinical training and education, MRI can provide intuitive teaching tools for medical students and doctors, helping them better understand the structure and function of the human body.

3、 Summary

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive medical imaging technique that utilizes powerful magnetic fields, radio frequency pulses, and computer technology to generate detailed images of the internal structure of the human body. MRI has the advantages of high resolution, non-invasive, and radiation free, and is widely used in clinical medical diagnosis, scientific research, and medical engineering. With the continuous development of science and technology, MRI will play an important role in more fields and make greater contributions to human health.

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