Musculoskeletal disorders and injuries are conditions that can affect your muscles, bones and joints and are among the most common health issues affecting millions of people worldwide, significantly impacting their quality of life.

Here, we take a look at how musculoskeletal MRI scans play a crucial role in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these conditions.


What is a Musculoskeletal MRI?

A musculoskeletal MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the musculoskeletal system. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, which utilise ionizing radiation, MRI scans rely on magnetic fields, making them a safer option for repeated use. These scans are crucial for visualising bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and other connective tissues in close detail.


Importance of Musculoskeletal MRIs

Musculoskeletal MRIs are invaluable for diagnosing a variety of conditions, including:

  • Injuries: Muscle tears, ligament sprains and tendon strains
  • Arthritis: Identifying and assessing the severity of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bone Disorders: Detecting fractures, bone infections (osteomyelitis) and bone tumours
  • Soft Tissue Conditions: Inflammation, tears and other soft tissue abnormalities
  • Spinal Issues: Identifying herniated discs, spinal stenosis and other spinal problems

By providing high-resolution images, these scans help doctors plan treatments, monitor disease progression and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.


The MRI Procedure: What to Expect

Here’s our step-by-step overview on what happens during a musculoskeletal MRI:

  • Preparation: You’ll be asked to remove all metal objects (jewellery, watches, etc) as they can interfere with the magnetic field. You may need to change into a hospital gown.
  • Positioning: You’ll lie on a moveable table that slides into the MRI machine. In the case of Upright MRI; this would be in one of their state of the art upright or open scanners (as opposed to the conventional ‘tunnel’ designs); specifically beneficial for scans of the spine or other joints of the body that are symptomatic in specific weight bearing positions.
  • During the scan: The MRI machine produces loud tapping or thumping sounds, so you’ll be given earplugs or headphones. Staying still is crucial to obtain clear images. The technologist will communicate with you via an intercom system.
  • Contrast Agents: Sometimes, a contrast agent (gadolinium) is injected to enhance the images. This helps highlight specific tissues and abnormalities.
  • Duration: The scan usually takes between 30-60 minutes, depending on the complexity.


Key Benefits:
  • Non-Invasive: No surgery or biopsies are needed
  • Detailed Imaging: Superior soft tissue contrast compared to other imaging modalities.
  • No Radiation: Safe for repeated use, suitable for children and pregnant women.


While an MRI’s primary role is in diagnosing and managing existing conditions, there is growing recognition of the benefits of preventative screening using MRI technology…


The Role of Preventative Screening

Preventative screening with musculoskeletal MRI scans is an emerging concept that offers several potential benefits:

  • Early Detection: Identifying conditions such as stress fractures, early-stage arthritis and minor soft tissue injuries before they become more serious.
  • Personalised Medicine: Tailoring prevention strategies and treatments based on detailed imaging results.
  • Enhanced Performance: For athletes, early detection of minor injuries can prevent them from worsening, ensuring optimal performance and longevity in their careers.
  • Cost Savings: Early intervention can reduce the need for more extensive and expensive treatments down the line.

Musculoskeletal MRI scans are not only essential for diagnosing and managing existing conditions but also hold significant potential in preventative health care. By catching issues early, it allows individuals to take proactive steps to maintain their musculoskeletal health, improve quality of life and potentially avoid more severe complications.

Here at Upright MRI, Upright/Open MRI scanner designs provide alternative means of accessing this technology compared to the more traditional closed bore design systems and are often the preferred choice of patients. By design these are more open and less invasive, providing more space within them for a more comfortable experience.


Enquire for a Scan at Upright MRI

If you or someone you know needs to get a scan as soon as possible, Upright MRI can help. We accept private patient and NHS patient referrals for open upright MRI scans at our clinics in Central London, Leeds and Birmingham.  You don’t even require a referral but you can simply self-refer online.

Read our FAQ page if you have questions about our procedures and fill out our enquiry form for consultations and other concerns.

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