What Is a Brain Scan?


Quick Answer

A brain scan is process that uses a device to generate an image of the brain. The most common scans are magnetic resonance imaging and computerized tomography, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

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Computerized tomography, or CT, scans use a ring-shaped device with special x-rays on the inside to scan the head of a prone patient from multiple directions. A computer processes the images and compiles them into a complete picture. A magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scanner is a tunnel-shaped machine. The patient lies on a platform that slides inside where the machine transmits and reads magnetic signals to create images, reports the American Brain Tumor Association.

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