MRI of the Head

What is MRI of the Head?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non surgical medical examination that enables physicians to ascertain and treat medical conditions.

MR imaging facilitates a strong magnetic field, radio frequencies and a computer to generate detailed images of bones, soft tissues, organs, and actually all other internal body features. After this the images can be evaluated on a computer monitor, transmitted electronically, printed or save onto a CD. In MRI ionizing radiation (x-rays) are not facilitated.

Detailed MR images enable physicians to better evaluate different parts of the body and ascertain the presence of some diseases that may not be examined properly with other imaging systems like x-ray, computed tomography (also called CT or CAT scanning) or ultrasound.

Currently, MRI is the most sophisticated imaging examination of the head (particularly in the brain) in routine general clinical practice.

Why MRI of the Head is Recommended?

MR imaging of the head is conducted to diagnose:

  • Brain tumors 
  • Disorders of brain
  • Vascular disorders of the head (like aneurysm)
  • Eyes and the inner ear disorders
  • Stroke
  • Trauma patients
  • Pituitary gland disorders
  • Few chronic diseases of the nervous system, for example multiple sclerosis.
  • Reasons of headache.

Physicians also use the MR test to analyze brain disorders in patients with dementia.

How to Prepare for MRI of the Head

Instruction pertaining to eating and drinking prior to an MRI exam may differ with the specific test and also with the facility available. For some kind of exams, you will be instructed to stop eating for 8-12 hours. So long you are not instructed otherwise, you may carry on your regular daily routine and medications.

Some MRI tests may need the patient to intake contrast material or get a shot of contrast within the bloodstream. Although, the contrast substance facilitated for an MRI exam, called gadolinium, is free from any type of iodine and is rare to cause side effects or an allergic response the radiologist may inquire if you are suffering with any kind of allergies, like allergy to iodine or x-ray contrast substance, food, drugs or asthma.

Jewelry and other accessories must be left at home, or removed before the MRI scan. Because they can obstruct the magnetic field of the MRI system, metal and electronic substances and also these are not permitted in the exam room.

Patients having metal substances in any part of their bodies may require an x-ray prior to an MRI. You should alert the radiologist or technologist of any bullets, shrapnel, or other pieces of metal which may be present within your body for any reason whatsoever. The entire examination is basically over in 45 minutes. MR spectroscopy, which offers additional details about the chemicals available in the body's cells, may also be conducted during the MRI test and may take almost 15 minutes.

What is felt During and After the MRI of the Head?

Most MRI exams are devoid of any pain, nevertheless, some patients find some kind of uneasiness and trouble in remaining still during MR imaging. Others experience a feeling of being closed-in. This is the reason, sedation is administered for such patients who are anticipating anxiety, but fewer than one in 20 is the percentage that would require it.

It is natural for the site of your body being imaged to experience slightly warm, but if it troubles you alert the technologist or radiologist. It is imperative that you remain perfectly steady while the images are being taken, which is generally only a matter of few seconds to a few minutes most of the time. For some particular type of study, you may be required to control your breath. You can make out when images are being recorded as you will observer thumping and tapping sounds when the coils that produce the radio frequency pulses are operational. You can relax between imagingprocedure, but will be instructed to retain your position firmly as much as possible.

When the contrast component is injected, it is common to experience coolness and a flushing feeling for a couple of minutes. The intravenous needle may cause some uneasiness when it is inserted and after it is removed, you may feel some bruising. There is also a very little chance of irritation of your skin at the location of the IV tube insertion.

Risks Factors Associated with MRI of Head

  • The MRI examination incurs almost no risk to almost all the patients when correct safety guidelines are followed.
  • If sedation is administered, application of excessive sedation is possible. The technologist or the health care professional checks your important signs to minimize this risk.
  • Nevertheless the powerful magnetic field is not injurious itself; implanted medical tools that contain metal may not function properly or cause troubles during an MRI exam.
  • There is a very small risk of witnessing some allergic reaction if contrast substance is used. Such reactions generally are light and easily controlled by the physician. If you feel allergic signs, a radiologist will be there for instant assistance.

Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is now a known, but rare, complication of MRI is said to be caused by the injection of large doses of MRI contrast substance in patients who are suffering with very poor kidney function.