Head MRI: An Important Tool in Diagnosing Brain Conditions
A head magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is an important tool in diagnosing and monitoring brain conditions, such as stroke, tumors, bleeding, infection, and head trauma. An MRI is a noninvasive, painless radiology procedure that produces detailed images of the structures inside the head. Attaching a computer to an MRI machine produces even more detailed images.
Patients should inform their doctors if they have a pacemaker, are pregnant, or suffer from claustrophobia. Depending on the clinical indication, patients might be asked to take medications prior to the scan. any metal objects inside the body such as dental fillings, piercings or surgery plates and screws should be carefully removed. Patients should inform their doctors of any of these before the scan.
Patients should lie on a board within the MRI machine and objects such as earrings or glasses should be removed. The patient is then given headphones to reduce the loud noise of the scan and is given a hand-held device as a panic button should they feel uncomfortable. Advancement in MRI techniques such as echo-planar imaging and balanced steady-state free precession imaging can help reduce the duration of the scan. In some cases, contrast media (dye) might be injected to enhance the scan.
Types of head MRI scans
- Brain MRI
- Cerebral angiography
- Functional MRI
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
- Diffusion weighted imaging
Head MRI is generally considered to be both safe and noninvasive. There are, however, potential risks such as allergic reactions to contrast media, breathing problems due to the enclosed space, and difficulty for those with pacemakers and other metal objects, such as hearing aids, inside the body. Additionally, some patients may experience anxiety while inside the machine.
Why to do Head MRI
MRIs are often used to diagnose or monitor brain conditions like stroke, tumors, bleeding, infection and head trauma. Head MRIs can also be used to evaluate the brain’s anatomy and detect any structural abnormalities. Functional MRI is used to detect brain activity, measure blood flow and diagnose functional disorders such as dementia and multiple sclerosis.
When to do Head MRI
Head MRI should be conducted when a patient has symptoms of a brain disorder or when there is an abnormal result from a neurologic or medical test. It can also be used to detect neurological changes due to neurodegenerative diseases. Head MRI is also used to monitor the progression or response to treatment of brain disorders.