What is the Difference Between an MRI technician and Ultrasound Technician?
Magnetic Resonance Imaging, known as MRI for short, is a medical imaging technique. This is fairly new technology, having been put into practice for the first time in 1973. The way this technology works is basically as follows: The equipment creates a high intensity magnetic field with respect to the part of the body to be imaged. This magnetic field has the effect of aligning the magnetic properties of some atoms in the body. What this basically means is that the atom’s electromagnetic field becomes aligned coherently with those of other atoms. Once this has been accomplished, radio waves are used to basically “shake” the collective magnetic field of the aligned atoms. The radio waves do this in a cyclical, rhythmic manner, in turn causing the magnetism of the atoms themselves to rotate. the resultant cycling or rotating magnetic field is read by electromagnetic scanning equipment and this data is used to produce a detailed image.
An MRI technician is someone who operates, adjusts, and maintains MRI equipment. They are responsible for administering MRI procedures and doing purely technical analysis of the images obtained. The actual diagnoses based on the images are handled by a physician.
MRI technology is considered a branch of radiology in general, which includes other imaging techniques such as x-ray technology, CT scans, and mammography.
MRI scans are used to detect differences between tissue types or different chemical compounds in the body. Since these different types respond to the electromagnetic fields being produced differently, they can be differentiated from each other by the scanning equipment. This creates a very effective MRI image. Mainly the advantage of this type of images over other techniques such as ultrasound and x-rays is its accuracy and clarity in certain imaging situations.
One of the main areas where MRI scans are used is in scanning the brain. These scans can accurately image what is going on in the grey matter. It tends to be used in cases of head trauma, aneurysms, stroke, and brain tumors. These various conditions appear with clarity in the images that are created.
MRI scans also prove useful in investigating injuries and conditions of the spinal cord. It accurately images both the interior spinal cord itself and the vertebrae and disks of the spine. This is often done after accidents in which patients have received trauma to the spinal column.
The heart can also be accurately imaged by an MRI scan and thus used to diagnose cardiac problems. It’s main advantages here is that it is noninvasive and may give better imaging than echocardiography (discussed a bit below) and some other techniques.
MRI technicians are responsible for administering these and other types of MRI scans. They often discuss the procedure with patients before hand, handle the actual procedure, adjust equipment, and reposition patients as the process continues. Afterwards they make various technical analyses of the images taken in order to assist physicians in interpreting them.
Ultrasound is an entirely different type of technology. It sends high frequency sound waves toward the body of the patient. These waves penetrate and strike various parts of the interior of the body, then bounce off. What is basically occurring is that this sound is echoing. Though this is not audible to the human ear, these echoes can be gathered by the imaging equipment and used to create an image.
An ultrasound technician, like an MRI technician, is responsible for handling the entire technical end of the ultrasound imaging process. They explain the procedure to patients, run the actual ultrasound procedure, adjust equipment, positions patients, and perform technical analyses after the images are taken.
This kind of imaging is considered quite accurate in many situations. It may be used for some of the following applications:
Ultrasound can be used to create images of the fetus in the womb and a woman’s reproductive system in general.
The use of ultrasound in cardiology is known as echocardiography. This is an accurate and relatively safe technique that produce clear images of the heart.
Ultrasound can clearly show muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and so on. This is especially useful in situations of traumatic injury such as breaks and sprains.
Ultrasound technicians do not solely deal with imaging for diagnostic purposes. There is also a whole branch of the field that deals with the therapeutic effects of ultrasound. It may be used, for instance, to break through blood clots, dissolve cysts or tumors, or treat cataracts.
The main difference between these modalities then is the technology used and its resulting applications. This just depends on the specifics of a given medical and imaging situation. It’s also important to note that MRI and radiology in general is considered more dangerous than ultrasound, so MRI technicians usually must be licensed in order to practice, while with sonography this is not a requirement. Either of these professionals may also deal with other imaging techniques, but it is perhaps a bit more common for MRI technicians to perform other radiology techniques such as X-rays or CT scans.
More useful related articles:
How to Become a Certified Ultrasound Technician
How to Become an Ultrasound Technician
Top 5 Ultrasound Technician Schools
Types of Ultrasound Technician Training
Ultrasound Technician Schools
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