Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a strong magnetic field rather than X-Rays to provide remarkably clear and detailed pictures of internal organs and tissues. This technique has proved very helpful to radiologists in diagnosing tumors of the brain as well as disorders of the eyes and the inner ear. MRI is the most sensitive exam for brain tumors, strokes and certain chronic disorders of the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis. In addition, it is a useful means of documenting brain abnormalities in patients with dementia and it is commonly used for patients with disease of the pituitary gland. Gadolinium intravenous contrast is often given providing greater contrast between various tissues. The radiologists who interpret the exams are board-certified and specialty trained in Neuroradiology.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head is performed for:
- Constant headaches
- Help diagnose a stroke or blood vessel problems in the brain. Problems with blood vessels may include an aneurysm or abnormal twisted blood vessels that are present at birth (this is called an arteriovenous [AV] malformation)
- Check blood flow or blood clots to the brain. MRI can show bleeding in or around the brain.
- Check symptoms of a known or suspected head injury
- Check symptoms such as change in consciousness, confusion, or abnormal movements. These symptoms may be caused by brain diseases, such as Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's disease, or Alzheimer's disease
- Check for "water on the brain" (hydrocephaly)
- Look for tumors, infections, an abscess, or conditions of the brain or brain stem, such as encephalitis or meningitis
- Check the eyes, the nerves from the eyes to the brain (optic nerves), the ears, and the nerves from the ears to the brain (auditory nerves)
- Look for problems of the pituitary gland
Your physician will give you detailed instructions on how to prepare for your MRI. Please inform your physician of any medications you are taking as well as any allergies you may have. Also inform your physician regarding a recent illness or other medical conditions.
Women should inform their physician if they are pregnant, or if there is any possibility they may be pregnant.