When to Get an MRI of the Brain

Have you been asked by your doctor to get an MRI of the brain? If so, you may immediately think that you have a brain tumor or other possibly deadly condition. However, an MRI of the brain is used as a diagnostic tool for a lot of conditions that impact the brain and spinal cord. Although some brain conditions can be life-threatening, an MRI of the brain is not something you should be scared of getting. The procedure is important so that your medical team can spot possible issues and provide treatment before the problems develop into something more serious.

How a Brain MRI Works

An MRI of the brain uses noninvasive technology to develop a detailed image of the brain, including the pituitary gland and brainstem. Such images offer valuable information about the appearance of the brain and any medical condition that affects it. While other Intermountain Medical Imaging services use radioactive X-rays for capturing images, an MRI uses radio waves.

What Conditions a Brain MRI can Detect

An MRI of the brain may be ordered to quickly confirm or determine a diagnosis of a brain-related medical condition that requires emergency treatment. Although the MRI can show irregularities like tumors, bleeding, swelling, cysts, and trauma, it can be used for getting an accurate depiction of the brain to confirm a diagnosis of non-emergency medical conditions such as ADHD. The following are some of the conditions an MRI scan can diagnose:

  • Brain aneurysm or hemorrhage. A brain MRI can be used to detect aneurysms and hemorrhages in the brain, which can be life-threatening. When a brain aneurysm ruptures, it can lead to brain damage, stroke, or death. A brain MRI can also detect hemorrhages and other blood flow issues. When the brain does not get vital oxygen, this can lead to brain damage or stroke.
  • Brain edema. An MRI of the brain can help diagnose brain cysts and tumors.
  • Traumatic brain injury. With a brain MRI, specialists can diagnose the location of the damage and the impact of the injury.
  • Stroke. An MRI of the brain can detect damaged brain tissue that results from an ischemic stroke or a brain hemorrhage.
  • Multiple sclerosis. This progressive disease impacts the brain and central nervous system. It can be detected through a brain MRI.
  • Spinal cord disorders. Usually, injuries in the spinal cord occur because of a traumatic injury. An MRI of the brain can be used to visualize an injury and know the next steps for treatment.