When imaging methods using the NMR signal were first developed, the term NMR imaging was applied to them. At least partially because of patients' concerns over the dangers of nuclear energy, nuclear radioactivity, and the like, by the mid‑1980s the word "nuclear" had been largely dropped when referring to these imaging methods. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, or simply MRI, became the preferred designation for this new radiologic technique. The lexicon has even further expanded now to include such terms as magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
In current use, therefore, the term NMR is preferable when one is describing the physical phenomenon itself or when referring to the measurements of the nuclear induction signal in physics or chemistry laboratories. The word "nuclear" is dropped when referring to imaging or spectroscopic techniques for humans or animals. Most scientific journals prefer to use the phrase MR imaging (rather than MRI) when referring to the clinical technique.
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The English/Latin abbreviation MRI is understood throughout the entire world and is even used exactly in this form in most languages, including Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, and Korean. However, two major languages use different abbreviations that sometimes appear in their native language journals or publications:
French: IRM, standing for "Imagerie par Résonance Magnétique", and
Russian/Ukranian: MPT for "магнитно-резонансной томографии"
Hendrick JE (ed). Glossary of MR Terms, 5th ed. Reston, VA: American College of Radiology, 2005.
Pohost GH, Elgavish GA, Evanochko WT. Nuclear magnetic resonance: with or without nuclear? J Amer Coll Cardiol 1986; 7:709-710.
Who discovered NMR?