Does MRI Use Radiation?

It’s normal to have questions or feel nervous about a medical procedure, such as an MRI exam. Unfamiliar experiences can be intimidating, especially when you don’t quite know what to expect. Magnetic resonance imaging is a medical imaging procedure. Other types of medical imaging use ionizing radiation — which is why some patients ask, “Does MRI use radiation?”

Does MRI use radiation?

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a non-invasive diagnostic tool that allows medical professionals to examine bone and soft tissues. MRI exams produce images of internal structures using magnetic fields and radio waves.

When people ask about MRI and radiation, they typically want to know if MRI produces radiation in the same way that X-ray imaging or CT scans produce radiation. Unlike X-rays and computed topography, MRI scans do not expose the patient to ionizing radiation.

MRI does produce low-spectrum radiation, however.

Ionizing vs. non-ionizing radiation

People typically think of harmful ionizing radiation when they think of radiation. Ionizing radiation contains enough energy to affect cells on the atomic level; it damages cells and removes electrons from a atoms and molecules, or ionizes them.

Sources of ionizing radiation include gamma radiation from radioactive elements, X-ray imaging, and UV radiation from tanning beds or the sun.

Non-ionizing radiation does not carry enough energy to affect the structure of atoms, however. Common sources of non-ionizing radiation include WiFi signals, computers, mobile devices, power lines, and radio waves.

Is medical imaging safe?

Again, MRI scans do not expose patients to ionizing radiation. The Food and Drug Administration states, “There are no known harmful side-effects associated with temporary exposure to the strong magnetic field used by MRI scanners.”

But what about medical imaging procedures that do produce ionizing radiation?

CT scans, X-ray imaging, mammograms, and bone density tests all expose the patient to medical radiation. Sometimes these procedures are necessary to provide an accurate diagnosis and ensure that the patients receive the proper treatment.

There are options, such as Low Radiation CT scans, that can help limit the patient’s exposure to harmful radiation. If you have questions or concerns regarding medical imaging and radiation exposure, talk to the experts at MANA Imaging and MANA MRI.