MRI scanner. Time exposure image of a nurse placing a patient in a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner. MRI, also called Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), is a diagnostic technique that produces "slice" images through the body. The patient lies in a cylindrical magnet which produces a powerful magnetic field. This field makes the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms in the patient's body line up parallel to each other. Radio wave pulses emitted by the scanner knock the hydrogen nuclei out of alignment. As they fall back into alignment they produce a radio signal which can be detected. MRI is useful for studying soft tissues like the brain and spinal cord.
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