Field of Science

Making a Mark

My interest in MRI has become less academic. I need an MRI of my hand. The orthopedic surgeon noted in passing that they will mark the spot of interest with a capsule of vitamin E, in the same way that they use lead markers in X-rays. I wondered what was so special about the vitamin E that left a trace in the MRI. Turns out that the spin-lattice relaxation time (T1) of the H's in tocopherol's chain of -CH2s is very short, and provides a high intensity signal which can be used to mark the spot. Mineral oil will work, too, but the vitamin E capsules are convenient.


  1. That is very interesting and I would not have thought that could work. I just got an MRI of my back done last week. Do you know why it makes so much noise that they give you earplugs? An NMR does not make any noise.

  2. The noise is due to the physical vibrations of the gradient coils. I'm guessing it's a size issue?


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