Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Physical examinations and X-rays are great diagnostic tools, but in some cases, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is needed to better diagnose pain, discomfort, or swelling in your feet, ankles, and lower legs. Unlike conventional X-rays or CAT scans, MRI scans do not use radiation, which makes this a valuable tool for patients who cannot undergo radiation-related tests. Also, MRIs are better at detecting soft-tissue conditions than X-rays.
Need for MRI diagnostic testing
In a podiatric setting, MRIs are often used as a non-invasive tool to better examine the internal workings of feet and ankles. Your doctor may use magnetic resonance imaging to diagnose:
- Arthritis and other joint damage.
- Bone injury, including fractures.
- Cartilage damage.
- Ligament injury, including sprains and tears.
- Soft tissue tumors.
- Tendon damage, including Achilles tendon tear.
Overview of MRIs
Instead of using radiation like X-rays, MRI exams utilize a combination of a magnetic field and radio waves to produce images of the soft tissue and bones in your feet and ankles.
During an MRI scan, your foot (or whichever body part is being examined) is placed inside an MRI machine, which has a strong magnet. Similar to an X-ray, you should not experience any unusual sensations during the scan. After the scan, your doctor will be able to review the images and discuss any findings with you.
Because MRI scans use a magnetic field to create images, there are some limitations to who can undergo these scans. You may not be a good candidate for an MRI if you have any of the following conditions:
- Artificial heart valves.
- Artificial limbs or metal prostheses.
- Brain aneurysms clips.
- Cardiac pacemaker or defibrillator.
- Electronic inner ear (cochlear) implants for hearing impairment.
- Implanted medical devices with metal, including IUDs.
- Implanted nerve stimulators (TENS implants).
- Implanted pump for insulin or narcotics.
Although some of the above conditions may not hinder you from having an MRI scan, be sure your doctor is aware of the condition before undergoing the scan.