SMRT Educational Seminars, Volume 14, Number 3

"MR Imaging Physics Tutorial"

Anne Marie Sawyer, B.S., R.T.(R)(MR), FSMRT, Editor


We are pleased to present the SMRT Educational Seminars, Volume 14, Number 3: “MR Imaging Physics Tutorial.” This is the 53rd accredited home study developed by the SMRT, exclusively for the SMRT members. The accreditation is conducted by the SMRT acting as a RCEEM (Recognized Continuing Education Evaluation Mechanism) for the ARRT. Category A credits are assigned to each home study, which can be used to maintain one’s ARRT advanced registry and are approved for AIR (Australian Institute of Radiography) continuing professional development (CPD) activities.

With the multitude of emerging applications in MR imaging, one must wonder, “Why a basic review of MR physics now?” As with most medical imaging, possessing a working knowledge of the fundamental building blocks is what allows us to move forward and more easily embrace, understand and effectively apply newer, more complex techniques. In addition, it is an opportunity to engage and teach technologists and radiographers new to the field of MR imaging. Finally, it never ceases to amaze this technologist of how fortunate we are to work in a field that is just pure magic as it continues to encourage the development of new ideas and applications. Looking to be challenged on a daily basis? Of course we are.

Two articles have been selected for this SMRT home study, both originally written by Ph.D.s for M.D.s. Is it complex? Of course it is. Is it understandable by technologists and radiographers? Of course it is. It is important to remember that not all MR physics articles are created equal. Each one has its own specific twist on MR imaging. Therefore, we must read many to ensure we not only discover the truth but we find those that help us understand the most complex details. As we are all unique individuals, so are the ways we learn and retain information.

In the article Fundamental Physics of MR Imaging, the authors state, “For radiologists who interpret magnetic resonance (MR) images, it is extremely important to understand the mechanisms that are used to create the image data.” While I agree it is important for radiologists to understand the physics and principles of MR imaging, it is equally important for the technologists and radiographers to do so as well. For it is we who sit at the controls and ensure optimum image quality is produced in the MRI scans. A very wise radiologist once told this technologist (albeit very young at the time), “I am only as good as the images you generate.” At the time that happened to be x-rays but it has remained true for all imaging modalities.

“MR imaging plays an increasingly important role in radiologic imaging of different pathologic disorders, where the goal is developing radiologic imaging markers for noninvasive prediction of disease and response to treatment.” This is a heads-up for us from the authors of the second article regarding the significant role that we as technologists and radiographers will play in the monumental changes coming our way in the advancement of health care.

Many thanks to Chesanie E. Beam, B.S., R.T.(R)(M) (MR) from Gastoria, North Carolina, USA, for acting as our Expert Reviewer for this home study issue and the accompanying quiz that provides the continuing education credits. Thanks to John Totman, SMRT Publications Chair from Nottingham, UK, for directing and supporting the home studies program. Thanks also to Jennifer Olson, Associate Executive Director, Mary Keydash, Publications Director, and the staff in the Berkeley, California, USA office of the ISMRM/SMRT for their insight and long hours supporting these educational symposia.

We would especially like to thank John Wilkie and all of the people at Invivo Corporation (Philips Healthcare) who generously support our home studies program, the SMRT Educational Seminars. Their continuing investment advancing technologist and radiographer knowledge brings quality continuing education to the SMRT membership worldwide.