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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) represents a breakthrough in medical diagnostics and research, and is becoming especially valuable in the evaluation of neurological and musculoskeletal pathology. It remains indispensable in the evaluation of brain tumors, strokes, and chronic demyelinating disorders, including multiple sclerosis. The fundamental concept of MRI is based on resonance; specifically, nuclei of certain atoms, most commonly hydrogen atoms, resonate when placed in powerful magnetic fields. A growing area in the emergent setting that uses MRI involves aortic dissection. MRI is superior to computed tomography (CT) in detecting injuries to soft tissues such as the brain and spinal cord. The lack of widespread availability of MRI and the high cost compared to CT scanning make its use limited in the ED. Additionally, the risk of allergic reaction to the contrast agent (gadolinium) does exist in MRI.
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