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Mesothelioma Diagnosis | MRIs and Ultrasounds

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Ultrasound are both soft tissue scanning tools that are can be used during a mesothelioma diagnosis. However, because both methods may only offer indistinct imaging of the internal workings of the body’s organs, they sometimes do not provide an overwhelming sense of value. For this reason, not all mesothelioma specialists rely on an MRI or Ultrasound during their workup of the disease.

How is an MRI used during the process of diagnosing mesothelioma?

MRI is sometimes used to determine if mesothelioma has penetrated through the diaphragm into the abdomen. Using radio waves and strong magnets, the physician is able to create a detailed, computer generated image of the body. These images can offer an insight into whether the diaphragm or chest wall has become involved with the disease, and whether the tumor has spread. However, it is important to keep in mind that in most cases, the images are considered too indistinct to be of much clinical value.

How is an ultrasound used during the process of diagnosing mesothelioma?

Using high-frequency sound waves to create a computer regenerated image, or sonogram, an ultrasound can provides a glimpse into the internal workings of the body, including organs, blood vessels, and tissues. However, keep in mind that an ultrasound simply doesn't penetrate deeply enough to be a good clinical tool in the case of an overall mesothelioma diagnosis. Ultrasound is useful in quantifying the amount of effusion present and is often used prior to a thoracentesis. Despite the progress, external tests aren't yet definitive enough to allow diagnosis without biopsy. Even if a tumor is detected, it must be examined by a pathologist to determine what kind of tumor it is and whether it is mesothelioma or some other type of cancer.

If you have a specific question or are looking for personalized information in regards to your mesothelioma diagnosis, contact the nurse practitioner from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, and receive access to detailed resources and critical diagnosis information.