What are MRI brain scans?


Quick Answer

A head magnetic resonance imaging scan, or MRI, is a test that produces images of the brain using a strong magnetic field and radio-wave energy, according to WebMD. It typically offers useful information that X-ray, ultrasound and computer tomography scans cannot provide.

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Full Answer

Doctors recommend MRI scans of the head to determine the cause of headaches, examine symptoms of a head injury, diagnose a stroke or blood vessel problem, or assess the blood flow or blood clots to the brain, explains WebMD. They also conduct head MRI scans to check the symptoms of brain diseases and find tumors, infections or other brain conditions.

During a head MRI scan, a person lies with her head inside a scanner, says WebMD. The MRI can reveal tissue damage or disease, and it create pictures or videos of particular views of the brain. A dye, or contrast material, is sometimes used during the test to produce clearer photos of blood flow, inflamed areas or certain types of tumors.

To prepare for a head MRI test, an individual should inform her doctor about any medicine allergies, especially if she is allergic to the contrast material, notes WebMD. To ensure safety, it is also important to tell the doctor if a person is pregnant, has health conditions or has any metal implants in the body.

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