MRIThe University of Utah is home to the most technologically advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment the Intermountain West has to offer. With the addition of our new 3-Tesla MRI scanner, we are able to capture images with a level of detail, clarity, and speeds never before possible. This allows our physicians to provide more accurate diagnoses and enables them to see more patients, also accommodating to larger and more claustrophobic patients.

Our team of neuroradiologists and MRI experts at University of Utah Health Care lead the way in diagnostic radiology imaging. The quality care, friendly service, and relaxing environment that you will experience helps set us apart, making us the right choice for your MRI and other medical imaging needs.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

What is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)?

MRI is a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of a large magnet, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.

How does an MRI scan work?

The MRI machine is a large, cylindrical (tube-shaped) machine that creates a strong magnetic field around the patient. The magnetic field, along with a radiofrequency, alters the hydrogen atoms' natural alignment in the body. Computers are then used to form two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) images of a body structure or organ based on the activity of the hydrogen atoms. Cross-sectional views can be obtained to reveal further details. MRI does not use radiation, as do x-rays or computed tomography (CT scans).

A magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from a scanner. The radio waves knock the nuclei of the atoms in your body out of their normal position. As the nuclei realign back into proper position, they send out radio signals. These signals are received by a computer that analyzes and converts them into an image of the part of the body being examined. This image appears on a viewing monitor. Some MRI machines look like narrow tunnels, while others are more open.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be used instead of computed tomography (CT) in situations where organs or soft tissue are being studied, because bones do not obscure the images of organs and soft tissues, as they do in CT.

Because radiation is not used, there is no risk of exposure to radiation during an MRI procedure.

Due to the use of the strong magnet, MRI cannot be performed on patients with implanted pacemakers, intracranial aneurysm clips, cochlear implants, certain prosthetic devices, implanted drug infusion pumps, neurostimulators, bone-growth stimulators, certain intrauterine contraceptive devices, or any other type of iron-based metal implants. MRI is also contraindicated in the presence of internal metallic objects such as bullets or shrapnel, as well as surgical clips, pins, plates, screws, metal sutures, or wire mesh. Dyes used in tattoos may contain iron and potentially could heat up during an MRI, but this is a rare occurrence.

Newer uses and indications for MRI have contributed to the development of additional magnetic resonance technology. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) is a procedure used to evaluate blood flow through arteries in a noninvasive (the skin is not pierced) manner. MRA can also be used to detect aneurysms within the brain and vascular malformations (abnormalities of blood vessels within the brain, spinal cord, or other parts of the body).

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is another noninvasive procedure used to assess chemical abnormalities in body tissues such as the brain. MRS may be used to assess disorders such as HIV infection of the brain, stroke, head injury, coma, Alzheimer's disease, tumors, and multiple sclerosis.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain (fMRI) is used to determine the specific location of the brain where a certain function, such as speech or memory, occurs. The general areas of the brain in which such functions occur are known, but the exact location may vary from person to person. During functional resonance imaging of the brain, you will be asked to perform a specific task, such as recite the Pledge of Allegiance, while the scan is being done. By pinpointing the exact location of the functional center in the brain, physicians can plan surgery or other treatments for a particular disorder of the brain.

How is an MRI performed?

An MRI may be performed on an outpatient basis, or as part of inpatient care. Although each facility may have specific protocols in place, generally, an MRI procedure follows this process:

  1. Because of the strong magnetic field, the patient must remove all jewelry and metal objects such as hairpins or barrettes, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and dental pieces.

  2. If a contrast medication and/or sedative are to be given by an intravenous line (IV), an IV line will be started in the hand or arm. If the contrast is to be taken by mouth, the patient will be given the contrast to swallow.

  3. The patient will lie on a table that slides into a tunnel in the scanner.

  4. The MRI staff will be in another room where the scanner controls are located. However, the patient will be in constant sight of the staff through live video feed. Speakers inside the scanner will enable the staff to communicate with and hear the patient. The patient will have a call bell so that he/she can let the staff know if he/she has any problems during the procedure.

  5. During the scanning process, a clicking noise will sound as the magnetic field is created and pulses of radio waves are sent from the scanner. The patient may be given headphones to wear to help block out the noises from the MRI scanner and hear any messages or instructions from the technologist.

  6. It is important that the patient remain very still during the examination.

  7. At intervals, the patient may be instructed to hold his/her breath, or to not breathe, for a few seconds, depending on the body part being examined. The patient will then be told when he/she can breathe. The patient should not have to hold his/her breath for longer than a few seconds, so this should not be uncomfortable.

  8. The technologist will be watching the patient at all times and will be in constant communication.

Jeffrey S. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D.

Jeffrey S. Anderson, MD, PhD directs the fMRI Neurosurgical Mapping Service and is Principal Investigator for the Utah Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory. Dr. Anderson’s lab studies brain networks using functional imaging techniques such as fMRI, diffusion tensor imaging, and magnetoencephalography. Dr. Anderson... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neuroradiology, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7553

H. Christian Davidson, M.D., M.S., B.A.

Dr. Davidson is a Utah native and long-time faculty at the University of Utah. After completing subspecialty training in Neuroradiology and Informatics at Utah and Stanford, Dr. Davidson spent his first 4 faculty years as Chief of Imaging at the Salk Lake City Veterans Hospital. Subsequently, he spent 5 years... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neuroradiology, Radiology, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Specialties:

Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, Radiology, Interventional Radiology

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

H. Ric Harnsberger, M.D.

H. Ric Harnsberger, MD is Professor of Radiology and R.C. Willey Chair of Neuroradiology at the University of Utah. He is an internationally recognized expert in head and neck imaging, having published over 250 articles and eight books in this area. Dr. Harnsberger is also Chair and CEO of AMIRSYS, Inc., a medic... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neuroradiology, Radiology, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-4624

Eugene J. Huo, M.D.

Eugene Huo, MD is an assistant professor in the Division of Interventional Radiology. Dr. Huo is an expert in uterine fibroid and post-partum embolization as well as develop an expertise in multiple treatment modalities for solid malignancy, including cryoablation, RFA and directed intra-arterial chemotherapy. ... Read More

Specialties:

Radiology, Computed Tomography - CT, Interventional Radiology, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-2967

Specialties:

Neuroradiology, Radiology

Locations:

A location has not yet been added by this physician.

Ryan G. O'Hara, M.D.

Dr. O’Hara completed his medical training at the University of Washington in Seattle followed by training in diagnostic radiology at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington. He then travelled to Philadelphia to pursue fellowship training in Vascular and Interventional Radiology at the University ... Read More

Specialties:

Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia, Interventional Radiology, Kidney Cancer, Liver Biopsies, Liver Cancer, Liver Disease, Liver Transplant, Lung Cancer

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-8170

Anne G. Osborn, M.D.

Anne G. Osborn, MD is Distinguished Professor of Radiology at the University of Utah. She is recognized internationally for helping establish the field of neuroradiology, which deals with the head, neck, spine, and the central and peripheral nervous system. Dr. Osborn is also the author of numerous medical books... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neuroradiology, Radiology, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Edward P. Quigley, M.D., Ph.D.

Edward P. Quigley III, MD, PhD centers his research on improving detection, characterization, and the treatment of neurologic and neurosurgical diseases through advanced imaging.
Disease processes studied by Dr. Quigley include multiple sclerosis, stroke, neoplasm... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neuroradiology, Radiology, Ultrasound, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Ulrich A. Rassner, M.D.

Ulrich A. Rassner, MD is Medical Director of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography at the University of Utah. Dr. Rassner also has specific research and clinical interest in MRI physics and MRI safety.... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neuroradiology, Radiology, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Karen L. Salzman, M.D.

Dr. Salzman is a Professor of Radiology; Director of the Neuroradiology Fellowship Program and Chief of Neuroradiology. She has written over 40 peer reviewed journal articles and has been a major contributor to the PocketRadiologist™ series; Diagnostic Imaging: Head & Neck; Diagnostic Imaging: Brain; Diagno... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neuroradiology, Radiology, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-7840

Lubdha M. Shah, M.D.

Lubdha M. Shah, MD is the director of spine imaging. Dr. Shah’s clinical and research interests include functional MRI, diffusion tensor imaging, MR perfusion imaging and MR spectroscopy in brain and spinal tumors as well as degenerative disease. She performs a variety of neurointerventional spinal procedures s... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neurointerventional Radiology, Neuroradiology, Radiology, Radiology/Interventional, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-8699

Edwin A. Stevens, M.D.

Edwin A. "Steve" Stevens, MD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiology at the University of Utah. Dr. Stevens is an interventional neuroradiologist who treats neurological diseases by endovascular and minimally invasive techniques guided by imaging. Dr. Stevens has given over 50 presentations, publis... Read More

Specialties:

Computed Tomography - CT, Interventional Radiology, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Neurointerventional Radiology, Neuroradiology, Radiology, Radiology/Interventional, Stroke, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-8170

Phil Taussky, M.D.

Phil Taussky, MD was born in Basel, Switzerland where he earned his MD degree at the University of Basel. During his residency at the Kantonsspital Aarau, Switzerland, he was also one of the team physicians for the Swiss National ice-hockey team. After his residency he completed a skull base/cerebrovascular fell... Read More

Specialties:

Brain Tumors, Cerebral Aneurysms, Hydrocephalus, Neurointerventional Radiology, Neurosurgery, Neurovascular Surgery, Skull Base Surgery, Stroke, Trauma - Neuro Critical Care, Traumatic Brain Injury, Vascular Malformations

Locations:

Clinical Neurosciences Center (801) 581-6908

Richard H. Wiggins, III, M.D.

Richard H. Wiggins III, MD, CIIP is Director of Imaging Informatics and is Medical Administrator for the Picture Archiving Communication System at the University of Utah. In 2008, the Department of Radiology awarded Dr. Wiggins with the Teacher of the Year Award.... Read More

Specialties:

Biomedical Informatics, Computed Tomography - CT, Head and Neck Surgical Oncology, Magnetic Resonance Imaging - MRI, Medical Informatics, Neurointerventional Radiology, Neuroradiology, Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, Radiology, X-Ray

Locations:

University Hospital (801) 581-8170

Michael J. Wilder, M.D.

Michael Wilder, MD is an Assistant Professor in the departments of Radiology and Neurology. His practice focuses on the acute treatment of stroke and other disorders involving blood vessels of the head, neck, and spine using endovascular, minimally invasive, imaging-guided techniques. Dr. Wilder participates in ... Read More

Specialties:

Neurology, Interventional Radiology, Stroke

Locations:

Clinical Neurosciences Center (801) 585-1688

University Campus/Research Park

Clinical Neurosciences Center 175 N. Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
Map
(801) 585-7575
Imaging & Neurosciences Center 729 Arapeen Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84108
Map
(801) 585-7575
University Hospital 50 N. Medical Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84132
Map
(801) 581-2121