The foot is the hardest of all areas to scan because of the composite three-dimensional anatomy. MRI or magnetic resonance imaging with its multiplanar capabilities, lack of ionizing radiation, noninvasiveness, ability to image bone marrow, and excellent soft-tissue contrast has become a valuable tool in evaluating the foot problems of the patients. MRI provides more information than computed tomography and ultrasound and is more specific than bone scintigraphy. MRI allows a global evaluation of the bones, ligaments, tendons and other structures with a single examination which exceeds the capabilities of all the other available techniques. In MRI scanning, a strong magnet is linked with a computer which creates a picture of the internal foot structures in black and white and shades of grey.
Before going for an MRI foot scan, you must have a satisfactory prescription by the doctor before entering the scanner room. You can eat, drink or take any medication as usual on the day of MRI scan. In some cases, you may be asked by the doctor not to drink or eat anything for few hours before the scan. You are also asked to fill in a questionnaire related to your health and medical history. You are also asked to remove all the metal objects including watches, jewelry, hairpins, hearing aid, coins, and keys. After all these, you are required to give your signed consent for the scan to proceed further.
The MRI scan of the foot helps in identifying the reason behind the increased pain or decreased motion of a particular joint. The MRI scan of the foot may also be done to check for various illness or certain cancers. The MRI may also show tissue that has tissue and cancer cells that do not have cancer cells. The MRI scan of the foot also shows the healthcare providers how well a treatment is working for a disease. The results of a quality MRI scan also helps in the planning for the best treatment which needs to be carried forward.
During an MRI foot scan, you are asked to lie down on the examination table. The position of the foot must be in a supine position with feet pointing towards the magnet. You need to position the ankle over the foot and ankle coil and lock it properly. The examination table then slides into the open end of the tube in the machine. The technician who will conduct the scanning procedure monitors you from another room. The procedure is completely painless and usually takes 30-60 minutes. You are required to remain in a standstill position for the entire scanning procedure. You will not be able to feel the radio waves or the magnetic field.