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Brain MRI

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Magnetic resonance imaging of the brain is a diagnostic technique that uses magnetic field and radio waves to take images of the brain, the surrounding nerve tissues and the brain stem. It’s non invasive and absolutely safe on the body.

Why Brain MRI is performed?

Brain MRI is suggested by doctor on suspecting any abnormality of the brain which includes:

  • Brain cysts, tumours or brain cancer
  • Condition of the nerves and tissues
  • Structural defects in the brain
  • Disorders of the eyes (blurry vision)
  • Disorders of inner ear
  • Abnormality in pituitary gland
  • Observe the condition of the fluid present inside brain
  • To test diseases of nervous system like dementia, seizures, etc.
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Swelling or bulging of blood vessels of brain- aneurysms
  • Underlying cause of constant headaches, weakness, dizziness, etc.
  • Infection or inflammation inside the brain
  • Internal haemorrhage of the brain

How to Prepare for the MRI?

Your doctor will check several things before conducting an MRI. You need to clarify the following points

  • Tell your doctor if you have implants in your body (including dental braces, IUDs, etc.) or wearing electronic medical devices.
  • Clarify your medical history – high BP, kidney problems, transplantation, etc.
  • Tell your doctor if you are planning to have a baby
  • Tell your doctor if you have claustrophobia, breathing, asthma and anxiety problems

Your doctor will let you know how to go ahead with the test.

Once the test has been scheduled you have to prepare in the following way:

  • You will be asked to change your dress with a hospital gown
  • Your doctor will guide you to modification in eating and drinking prior to the test
  • You need to take off your jewellery, pins, wallets, metallic things, eye glasses, contact lenses etc. Simply put, you will just be wearing the gown
  • You may be given a mild sedative to stay calm and still during the test

What happens during the test?

The MRI unit is a big cylindrical tube which is surrounded by a magnet. This is the standard procedure. In an open MRI, the magnet doesn’t surround your entire body.

You will be lying down on a movable examination table.

Your head will be placed inside a plastic coil and the table will slide inside the machine. The radiologist will capture several images, which will be produced in the computer.

Gadolinium may be injected intravenously as a contrast material to view specific parts of the brain. It’s an alternative for those with Iodine allergy.

The test takes 30-60 minutes for completion

How does the test feel like?

At first, there’s no pain associated with it. You will be alone in the MRI room. You can clearly hear snapping sound while the images are taken as well as hear humming, thumping, or throbbing noises of the machine. The technician may give you ear plugs or headphones to listen music.

Since the contrast material is given intravenously, you can sense coolness. You may feel a bit tired out of lying down for a long time.

Interpretation of Results

The results will be interpreted by the radiologists and will be shared with the doctor before disclosing to the patient. Follow up tests may be suggested which completely depends on the test results.

MRI tests are completely safe; in rare cases a patient may get allergy from the contrast dye. All in all it’s a highly specialized technique capable of detecting abnormalities of the brain.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 17, 2015

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