An MRI scan of the brain is a noninvasive test that produces detailed images of the brain and the brain stem. The MRI machine creates images using a magnetic field and radio waves. This test is also known as cranial MRI or head MRI.
An MRI scan is different from other types of scans like X-rays or CT scans because it also gives 3-dimensional images of the internal structures of the brain. Thus, it is more effective in detecting and highlighting any abnormalities in the pituitary gland or brain stem. Sometimes, the patients are also given a contrasting dye to detect certain abnormalities in brain structures or functions.
When is MRI scan of the brain needed?
It is often thought that MRI of the brain is needed in case of a head injury or accident. However, there are numerous other conditions in which MRI of the brain is suggested. These brain conditions may include; stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, aneurysms, tumors, cysts, hormonal disorders, inflammation, and problems with development or structure of the brain.
There are many symptoms as well that might indicate the presence of any potential problem. These symptoms may include; dizziness, seizures, blurry vision, chronic headaches, and changes in behavior and thinking. Due to the presence of these symptoms the doctor might suggest the patient go for an MRI scan.
To detect the abnormalities in the functions of the brain, a functional MRI is usually conducted. The MRI pinpoints the areas of the brain that are responsible for speech and language problems as well as problems in body movement and balancing.
How is brain MRI done?
For an MRI to give clear and perfect results it is important for the patients to stay still. Thus, if the patient is a child, doctors may give sedation either orally or through an IV line. Sedation is also given to patients who are claustrophobic.
During a brain MRI scan, the patient will be asked to lie down, perfectly straight and still on a table which slides into a doughnut-like structure of the MRI machine. After the table slides into the machine, several images of the brain will be taken. Although the procedure is painless and the patient does not feel anything; however, they can hear loud thumping noises. For this reason, a lot of technicians these days provide earplugs to the patients so that they remain comfortable during the MRI scan.
A lot of times, a patient might receive a contrast solution usually containing gadolinium, through an IV line. This allows the MRI machines to see certain parts of the brain more easily and the problems can be more visible.
To date, MRI is the safest imaging technique and no allergic reactions to the dye have been reported so far. However, if a patient has decreased kidney function, this must be communicated to the medical staff because it would not be safe to use contrast dye in that case.
The fMRI measures the metabolic changes that occur in the brain when certain tasks are performed. During fMRI, the patient may be asked to answer basic questions or to follow simple instructions.
At MRI Lincoln Imaging Center, we provide competent and experienced radiologists who are trained to conduct your MRI scan in the best possible manner.