Brain MRI

An MRI uses powerful magnets, radio waves and a computer to take images of your brain without the use of radiation. Brain scans produce detailed images of the brain and surrounding tissue in a noninvasive way. An MRI allows your doctor to see inside your brain to check for diseases or injuries without having to do surgery. A brain MRI can help doctors look for and diagnose conditions such as bleeding, swelling, problems with the way the brain developed, tumors, infections, inflammation, damage from an injury or a stroke, vascular dementia or problems with the blood vessels .

The MRI can also help doctors look for causes of headaches or seizures. Your doctor can use the images to make a diagnosis and recommend the best treatment for your condition. MRI images are clearer and more precise than other forms of diagnostic imaging. It produces high-resolution images of the inside of the body that help diagnose a variety of problems.

Our Services

Valley Regional Imaging offers a wide range of radiology services. With over 50 years of experience, our radiologists are committed to providing the highest quality imaging services in the most customer-focused environment, where every patient is treated with the personalized care and attention they deserve.

What should I expect during my brain MRI?

How to prepare for a brain MRI?

What should I expect during my brain MRI?

The MRI machine looks like a long narrow tube that has both ends open.  If you think of a CT machine as a donut, you can think of an MRI as more of a tissue paper roll. You lie down on a movable table that raises and slides into the opening of the tube. A technologist monitors you from another room.  You will be given a squeeze ball should you need your technologist’s attention and you can also talked with them by microphone. If you have a fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), you might be given a drug by your referring doctor to help you feel sleepy and less anxious. Most people get through the exam without difficulty. The MRI machine creates a strong magnetic field around you, and radio waves are directed at your body. The procedure is painless. You don't feel the magnetic field or radio waves, and there are no moving parts around you.

During the MRI scan, the internal part of the magnet produces repetitive tapping, thumping and other noises. You might be given earplugs or have headphones to help block the noise. In some cases, a contrast material, typically gadolinium, will be injected through an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. The contrast material enhances certain details. Gadolinium rarely causes allergic reactions.  An MRI can last anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour depending on the type of procedure or number of procedures being done in a single day. You must hold still because movement can blur the resulting images.

How to prepare for a brain MRI?

You should not have to do too much to prepare for a head MRI. You may be able to eat, drink and take your medications as usual. However, if your doctor ordered a scan for other parts of your body, such as your abdominal region, they may instruct you not to drink or eat four to six hours before the test. Because an MRI machine is essentially a magnet, it can interact with metals, thus creating a blurry image. That’s why it helps to leave metal items at home before your appointment, or remove them before you enter the scanning room. You can prepare for your scan ahead of time by removing the following items from your body and pockets:

  • Body piercings
  • Pens
  • Jewelry
  • Hearing aids
  • Pins
  • Hairpins
  • Zippers or any metal clothing fasteners
  • Removable dental work

It’s also best to avoid wearing makeup, nail polish, hair products, sunscreen and antiperspirants, as these items could contain metal particles. If you wear glasses, you will need to remove them when it’s time for the scan. Before you schedule your appointment for a brain MRI, make sure to inform the medical staff if you have any of the following conditions.

  • Kidney disease: If you have a history of kidney failure, kidney disease or liver disease, you may not be able to receive gadolinium, an intravenous contrast agent, which helps improve the accuracy of an MRI scan. Gadolinium increases your risk of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, which is a disease that affects the skin and other organs.
  • Pregnancy: There is a link between gadolinium and an increased risk of harm to the fetus. Therefore, doctors recommend women should not get an MRI with gadolinium anytime during pregnancy unless necessary.
  • Implanted Metallic/Electronic Devices: Some implants or orthopedic metals are perfectly safe for MRI scans.  There are a few that absolutely cannot be introduced into a magnetic field that is created by an MRI scan.  A few of these non-safe implants include a pacemaker, defibrillator, neuro-stimulator, glucose monitor, insulin pump or aneurysm clips.  There are many more, but you should clearly notify your technologist of any implants devices that you may have.
  • Claustrophobia: Claustrophobia is a fear of enclosed spaces. If you experience claustrophobia, you might speak with your doctor about taking anti-anxiety medication for the test. Many people worry about claustrophobia when it’s time for their MRI. Medical staff understand MRIs can seem frightening to individuals with anxiety or claustrophobia, but they are there to help you remain calm throughout the entire experience.