The New York Times—October 13, 2008
This is a story about M.R.I.'s, those amazing scans that can show tissue injury and bone damage, inflammation and fluid accumulation. Except when they can't and you think they can.
I found out about magnetic resonance imaging tests when I injured my forefoot running. All of a sudden, halfway through a run, my foot hurt so much that I had to stop.
But an M.R.I. at a local radiology center found nothing wrong.
That, of course, was what I wanted to hear. So I spent five days waiting for it to feel better, taking the anti-inflammatory drugs ibuprofen and naproxen, using an elliptical cross-trainer, and riding my road bike with its clipless pedals that attach themselves to my bicycling shoes. By then, my foot hurt so much I had to walk on my heel.
It showed a serious stress fracture, a hairline crack in a metatarsal bone in my forefoot. It was so serious, in fact, that Dr. Kennedy warned that I risked surgery if I continued activities like cycling and the elliptical cross-trainer, which make such injuries worse. And I had to stop taking anti-inflammatory drugs, since they impede bone healing.
How could M.R.I.'s have come to such different conclusions?
I asked Dr. Kennedy the same question and received the same answer. He explained that in my case the quality of the two images was vastly different. "It's like the difference between a black-and-white TV and HDTV," he said.
Read the full story at nytimes.com.