Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head is a procedure used to produce detailed images of the brain using a strong magnetic field, radio waves and a computer that are clearer and more detailed compared to other imaging methods.
An MRI procedure does not use ionizing radiation and may require an injection of a special contrast material called gadolinium, which is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than an iodinated contrast material.
What is MRI?
MRI is a noninvasive test used to diagnose medical conditions. Detailed MR images allow doctors to examine the body and detect disease with the right procedure. The images generated can be reviewed on a computer monitor.
An MRI is performed by an MRI technologist. Usually, an MRI technologist works in conjuction with a radiologist
Purposes of Head MRI
An MRI may be performed to detect several brain conditions, such as:
- Spinal cord injury.
- Blood vessel problems.
- Hormonal disorders, such as acromegaly and Cushing’s syndrome.
- Hydrocephalus, a buildup of spinal fluid in the brain cavity.
- Multiple Sclerosis, a brain disorder that affects the body’s immune system
- Problems with brain development or structure, such as Chiari malformation.
- Brain aneurysm.
Who Requires head MRI?
MRI of the head is required for numerous medical conditions. MRI can help determine if you have brain damage from a stroke or an injury. Your doctor may also perform an MRI of the head to examine symptoms such as:
- Chronic headaches.
- Blurred vision.
- Changes in thinking or behavior.
These symptoms may be caused by brain problems — in which an MRI of the head can help.
MRI may also be performed for people who may have to undergo brain surgery. The MRI results can pinpoint areas of the brain responsible for speech, language and body movements.
It does this by measuring the metabolic changes that take place in your bain you perform certain tasks. During this procedure, you may need to carry out small tasks, such as answering basic questions or tapping the thumb with your fingertip.
In addition, there is a type of MRI called Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA), which is used to examine blood vessels in the brain.
Cost Estimation for MRI of The Head?
The cost for an MRI of the head may vary — depending on the hospital that provides the procedure. Each hospital and clinic usually offers a variety of service packages based on your diagnosis and financial ability.
For more details regarding the cost for a head MRI scanning, contact Smarter Health.
There are a series of preparations required performing an MRI. You may need to consult your doctor about any health complaints you experience. You also need to inform your doctor regarding your medical history. Your doctor may ask you about any habits or activities that you did before you had symptoms.
The radiographer also needs to know if you are pregnant. Doctors tend not to recommend MRI scans during pregnancy as the magnetic field may affect fetal development.
You are required to remove anything that contains metal objects, such as piercings, metal plates, watches, or jewelry from your body — as these objects may affect the scanning process.
Other metallic objects that may interfere with the exam include:
- Eye implants.
- Cochlear implant.
- Aneurysm clipping
- Surgical staples.
- Removable dental work
- Metal plates, cables, screws.
- Some types of metal coils placed within blood vessels
You may be asked to wear a hospital gown for the scanning procedure. All your belongings, such as your clothes and jewelry will be kept in a secure locker until the scan is complete.
You will be positioned on the moveable exam table. To help you stay still and maintain your position, straps and bolsters may be used. A device is then positioned around your head, which then will produce detailed images of the parts being scanned.
You may be given an injection of a contrast dye (gadolinium) through an IV to enhance the image.
If an MRI is used for a surgical procedure, small markers called fiducials may be placed on your forehead, face, or behind your ear. Fiducials help guide the surgeon during surgery.
If you are already in a comfortable position, the table will slide into the tunnel and your technician will start taking images of the head. You may be given headphones to listen to music during the exam. During the exam, you will hear a muffled thud sound for several minutes — this is the sound of the captured image. The exam usually takes 20 to 50 minutes.
After the exam, you may be asked to drink plenty of fluids to help your kidneys remove contrast dye (gadolinium) from your body.
Understanding Your MRI Results
Your radiologist will analyze your MRI images and provide the results to your doctor. The results will be available shortly after the exam if the MRI is an emergency procedure.
The next step will depend on whether your MRI results reveal anything unusual or identify the cause of the abnormality. Consult your doctor to discuss what you should do next.
Side Effects of MRI of The Head
The main advantage of MRI of the head is its ability to provide accurate data on your brain condition. Additionally, MRI is also a very safe procedure. There are no known health risks associated with the magnetic field or radio waves being used in an MRI.
Certain people may be sensitive to the use of contrast and it may cause allergic reactions. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have diabetes or kidney problems. In some cases, kidney function tests may be necessary before you perform MRI. This is done to make sure that your kidneys are able to clear contrast from your body.
Furthermore, you should also tell your doctor if you are pregnant. The American College of Radiology recommends that MRI scans are not performed in the first trimester of pregnancy. After the first trimester, there is no definitive research indicating that MRI has contraindications to pregnancy. However, you must have a written order for the MRI from your obstetrician.