Procedure & Limitations of Knee MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Submitted on March 27, 2012

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is essentially a test that is performed using a large machine that creates a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy in order to create a picture of the knee. This shows the cartilage, ligaments, muscles as well as joint structures to allow the doctor a clear and detailed picture of the complications the knee may be suffering from. The MRI scan is much more detailed than other medical imaging procedures such as an X - ray, ultrasound or even a CT scan.

Individuals that have suffered significant trauma to the knee or even suffer from chronic knee pain will usually be asked by their doctors to have an MRI of the knee performed in order to diagnose the root of the problem. The biggest advantage of a knee MRI scan is the fact that there is no need for any exploratory surgery which could potentially damage the internal structure of your knee. Moreover, if surgery is a necessity, the MRI scan would provide enough details for the surgeon to be better prepared.


When being subjected to an MRI of the knee, the patient will be asked to lie down on a sliding couch and positioned comfortably into the large machine before the technicians and medical staff have left the room. The patient will be in the machine for anywhere between 15 minutes to 45 minutes, during which short periods of scanning will take place, depending on how long the doctors take to find what they are looking for. The machine creates a digital image and that is projected on a screen in the visualization room where the medical staff will have gathered. They will be able to communicate at all times with the patient in the machine using a telecom system. Some cases may require a contrast material to be inserted into your knee to aid the diagnoses.


Even though the MRI procedure is one of the best and most useful medical techniques, it has its drawbacks. For example, when performing an MRI of the knee the actual bone is better viewed on conventional X - ray or even CT scans. The presence of metallic implants will also interfere significantly with the radio waves that the test utilizes - although newer software has worked on correcting this. Do not have an MRI scan performed if you are pregnant.