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Brain MRI Scan

Brain MRI Scan

A brain MRI scan can provide information which in some cases cannot be determined with X-ray, ultrasound or a CT scan. This write-up gives you an insight into brain MRI scan and its importance in medical science.
Rajib Singha
Did You Know?

Zoran Josipovic, Ph.D., a professor at New York University, and the founding director of Nonduality Institute, has been using the functional MRI machine to study how monks control their brains when they meditate.

MRI is short for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is a noninvasive medical test that produces vivid images of the area to be examined and its surrounding tissues; in this case, the brain. These images help doctors to detect any abnormality like tissue damage or disease. Apart from being used to detect abnormalities in the brain and spinal cord, MRI test is also frequently used for diagnosing problems of the heart, blood vessels, bones, joints, internal organs, etc.
What Does Brain MRI Detect?
Brain MRI scan helps diagnose problems such as:
• Aneurysm
• Bleeding in the brain
• Blurry vision
• Cysts
• Headaches
• Hearing loss
• Hormonal disorders
• Infection
• Multiple sclerosis
• Muscle weakness
• Persistent dizziness
• Stroke
• Structure abnormalities
• Swelling in the brain
• Tingling and numbness
• Tumors
The Procedure
» You will be advised to wear loose and comfortable clothing before the procedure begins. You would have to remove any metal objects such as rings, phones, hairpins, and the like. Presence of such objects may create errors in the images produced.
» Generally, you will lie on a narrow table which would transport you into the MRI machine. To prevent movements, your head, chest and hands may be secured with straps.
» During an MRI scan it is extremely important that you lie still, as movements may blur the images and interfere with the results. Some people may not be comfortable in small places (claustrophobic). To help them relax during an MRI scan, their doctor may administer certain medicines.
» Usually, a brain MRI scan lasts for 30-60 minutes. So children, especially infants and small kids may have a hard time lying still for the test for so long. In their case, sedative medicines may be required. And if a patient is sedated, his/her breathing, heartbeat and oxygen levels will be constantly monitored.
» To detect certain defects, you may be given a contrast solution intravenously. This contrast works to highlight or enhance the view of certain areas of the brain to be examined specifically.
» As the scanner starts working, it makes loud and repetitive hammering, thumping or snapping noises. To reduce the noise, you may use headphones or earplugs.
» There will be a mode of communication between you and the person who is operating the scanner.
» You may also be advised to refrain from eating or drinking about 4-6 hours prior to the brain MRI scan. This again depends on the area(s) to be examined.
» MRI scan is a painless procedure. Although the machine creates a strong magnetic field and exposes the body to radio waves, you won't feel a thing. You can resume your daily activities as usual after the procedure. However, if you were on sedatives then you may be moved to a recovery area.
Side Effects
MRI scan is not only easy but a safe procedure too. It does not use any kind of radiation but only low-energy radio waves. Till date no side effects have been reported. The contrast material used in the imaging might cause allergic reactions, but such cases are rare.
Things to Remember
☛ You must inform the radiologist about your medical history, if any. People with severe kidney or liver diseases are not considered eligible candidates to receive contrast materials.
☛ If you are expecting, then you may want to discuss it with your doctor. Although there are no definite studies of magnetic effect on fetuses, it is better to err on the side of caution.
☛ Brain MRI scans or any other MRI scans for that matter, may not be recommended for people with internal (implanted) defibrillator or pacemaker, cochlear implants and brain aneurysm clips. People with artificial heart valves, implanted drug infusion ports, implanted nerve stimulators, metal pins, screws, plates, stents or surgical staples are also advised to have a discussion with their doctors before they go for any such scans.
To conclude, cost of a brain MRI scan may vary depending on the location and the testing center. On an average, it ranges from $400 to $3,500.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.