PAUL SHAMBROOM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL SHAMBROOM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Child receiving a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan, showing the subject and scanner in background, with doctors studying a computer image of the child's head in foreground. MRI is a diagnostic technique that is capable of differentiating soft body tissues & unlike CT (X- ray) scanning does not rely on ionising radiation. MRI studies the physical behaviour of atomic particles (protons) in body tissues that are subjected to a strong magnetic field. When the magnetic field is interrupted by brief bursts of radio waves, the protons themselves behave as small radio-transmitters, supplying signals from which an image is ultimately constructed.
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