Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): invention and principle (1938)

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): invention and principle (1938)


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Magnetic Resonance Imaging, MRI, is based on a phenomenon observed in 1938 by a certain Isidor Isaac Rabi on molecular jets. It allows the exploration of the organs of the human body without requiring an operation thanks to the detection of the signals of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) emitted by hydrogen atoms in tissue.

MRI: the absolute weapon of modern medicine

The technique took the name of MRI after the end of the Second World War and the first releases of atomic bomb, word nuclear being removed from the name for its overly aggressive connotation.

Many researchers contribute to its development, such Felix bloch and Edward Mills Purcell in 1946. Raymond Vahan Damadian proposes since 1969 to use NMR for medical purposes and in particular in the detection of tumors.

The process developed over the following decades and continued to improve, particularly in terms of resolution, and from the 1980s onwards it was possible to have a 2D or 3D view of a part of the body, in particular the body. brain : by applying a combination of high frequency electromagnetic waves to a part of the body and by measuring the signal re-emitted by certain atoms (such as hydrogen), it is indeed possible to determine the chemical composition and therefore the nature of the biological tissues at each point of the imaged volume.

Unlike CT scans and other imaging techniques like PET, the MRI scan is not invasive and does not irradiate, which is a huge advantage.

This technique has since been widely used for the detection of neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, strokes, and tumors, all with tremendous precision.


Video: Radiographer Films Inside of a CT scanner spinning at full speed.