Learning About MRI the Fun Way

By accident, I discovered a web presentation on the basic principles of MRI that was not only easy and clear, but also entertaining and charming. Sound impossible? It’s not as far-fetched as it seems, thanks to the work of Prasanna Tilakaratna, a very intelligent man with a gentle sense of humor.

Pras, as he likes to be called, is a consultant anesthesiologist at a community hospital about 30 miles east of London. I never met him, of course, but his “About Me” page makes it very easy for you to get to know him. His “How Equipment Works” website is completely voluntary and extremely gratifying. He writes, “While I do spend a huge amount of personal time on this website, I get great joy feeling that I might be helping someone somewhere understand the physical principles behind equipment.”

The term Magnetic Resonance Imaging gives a big clue that the principles might be difficult to grasp. How many of us walk around with a working knowledge of magnetism, radio frequency, and subatomic particles (hydrogen protons)? He not only explains the principles, but he also describes the device in a way that demystifies it. If you’ve ever had an MRI, did you know that the coils that produce the magnetic field are housed in liquid helium at -450° Fahrenheit? Do you know why they have to be kept so cold? Do you know why the imaging process is so noisy? If you’re already starting to get a headache just thinking about it, Pras and his illustrations take you step by step into how magnetic resonance is harmlessly converted into detailed, accurate images of internal structures based on the water in your body. Along the way, he intersperses joking observations that add a bit of comedy.

If you have about 15 minutes to indulge in painless learning, I invite you step into my world of magnetic resonance imaging. Pras not only makes it understandable, but adds a sense of wonder over one of the truly miraculous ways technology helps medical practice. Visit http://www.howequipmentworks.com/physics/medical_imaging/mri/magnetic_resonance_imaging.html and have fun!

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