The future of MRI seems limited only by our imagination. This technology is still in its infancy, comparatively speaking. It has been in widespread use for less than 20 years (compared with over 100 years for X-rays).
Very small scanners for imaging specific body parts are being developed. For instance, a scanner that you simply place your arm, knee or foot in are currently in use in some areas. Our ability to visualize the arterial and venous system is improving all the time. Functional brain mapping (scanning a person's brain while he or she is performing a certain physical task such as squeezing a ball, or looking at a particular type of picture) is helping researchers better understand how the brain works. Research is under way in a few institutions to image the ventilation dynamics of the lungs through the use of hyperpolarized helium-3 gas. The development of new, improved ways to image strokes in their earliest stages is ongoing.
Predicting the future of MRI is speculative at best, but I have no doubt it will be exciting for those of us in the field, and very beneficial to the patients we care for. MRI is a field with a virtually limitless future, and I hope this article has helped you better understand the basics of how it all works!