Incidental Findings in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Brain Research

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 36 (2):315-319 (2008)
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Magnetic resonance imaging is a noninvasive imaging tool that utilizes a strong magnetic field and radio frequency waves to visualize in great detail organs, soft tissue, and bone. Unlike conventional x-rays, there is no exposure to ionizing radiation and at most field strengths the procedure is considered safe for nearly every age group. Because it is non-invasive and possesses excellent spatial resolution, the use of MRI as a research tool has increased exponentially over the past decade. Uses have ranged from add-ons to a clinical study to studies of brain development in typically developing children. In addition, a major effort has been made in recent years to use MRI to study brain function. Because the clinical utility of fMRI has not yet been realized, fMRI is still considered highly exploratory, and we cannot yet identify incidental findings of a functional nature.



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