An MRI scan of the thoracic outlet is done to study its anatomy in detail and identify abnormalities if any. The thoracic outlet is composed of three anatomic spaces, which if narrowed down, lead to blood vessel or nerve compression. This results in thoracic outlet syndrome. An MRI scan of the thoracic outlet helps diagnose and clinically evaluate patients with thoracic outlet syndrome. Using various maneuvers, the doctors evaluate patient’s symptoms. Usually, the patient’s arm is elevated to study effects on the anatomy of thoracic outlet. Management and treatment is then prescribed according to the findings of the MRI scan.
No specific preparation is to be done before taking this scan. Your doctor will carry out a physical exam and will also study the results of other diagnostic tests. So make sure you have provided the doctor with all the necessary test results.
MRI is a noninvasive technique that helps study the anatomy of the thoracic outlet in depth. It helps identify any compressions or blockages in blood vessels or nerves that may be causing thoracic outlet syndrome.
Before starting an MRI scan, a contrast dye will be injected in your blood stream to highlight the thoracic outlet. When the dye is being injected, it is possible for you to experience a warm sensation as the dye circulates in your body. After the dye is injected, you will be asked to lie down in an MRI machine which uses magnetic field to create 2D and 3D images of the anatomy of your thoracic outlet. This will help doctors study if any blood vessels or nerves are being compressed or blocked. The entire test takes around 45 minutes.