Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a sophisticated diagnostic technique that uses a magnetic field, radiowaves and a computer to generate detailed, cross-sectional images of human anatomy. Because it produces better soft-tissue images than X-rays can, MRI is most commonly used to image the brain, spine, abdomen, vascular system and musculoskeletal system (including the knee and shoulder). MR technology produces detailed images of the soft-tissue in your shoulder, and allows the physician to evaluate different types of body tissue (such as cartilage, ligaments and tendons) as well as distinguish normal, healthy tissue from diseased tissue.
MRI is a safe procedure for most patients, although it generally is not recommended for pregnant women. If you are pregnant, let your physician know. Because the body is exposed to a strong magnetic field, patients who have a pacemaker, cochlear implants or aneurysm clips should check with a physician before undergoing an MRI examination. Patients who have other types of metal implants and patients who have been exposed to shrapnel or whose eyes have been exposed to metal shavings also might not be candidates for MRI; it's important to let your physician know if these conditions apply to you. For similar reasons, women undergoing an MRI exam should not wear eye shadow, because it sometimes contains metallic substances.