Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the brain is often performed to detect abnormalities in small structures of the brain such as the pituitary gland and brain stem. This exam is also performed to diagnose certain chronic conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or identify the cause of an epileptic seizure.

When would I get a Brain MRI?

Your medical provider may recommend an MRI of the brain in order evaluate:

  • developmental anomalies
  • hydrocephalus, a dilatation of fluid spaces within the brain (ventricles)
  • infections
  • stroke
  • brain tumors
  • hemorrhage in selected trauma patients
  • disorders of the eye and inner ear
  • disorders of pituitary gland
  • vascular problems, such as an aneurysm, which is a bubble-like expansion of the vessel, arterial occlusion, which is a blockage or venous thrombosis, which is a blood clot within a vein.

What Will I Experience?

MRI exams are painless. However, some patients find it challenging to remain still. Others may feel closed-in (claustrophobia) or anxious while in a conventional closed MRI scanner. The scanner can be noisy. Nervous or anxious patients may be offered a mild sedative where available.

A patient may also ask their medical provider to prescribe a mild sedative to take before the exam.  If a mild sedative is taken, the patient will need to have someone drive them to our center and take them home once the exam is done.

It is normal for the area of your body being imaged to feel slightly warm. It is important that you remain perfectly still while the images are being recorded, which is typically only a few seconds to a few minutes at a time. You will know when images are being recorded because you will hear tapping or thumping sounds when the coils that generate the radiofrequency pulses are activated. You will be able to relax between imaging sequences, but will be asked to maintain your position as much as possible.

You will usually be alone in the exam room during the MRI procedure. However, the technologist will be able to see, hear and speak with you at all times using a two-way intercom.

You will be offered earplugs or a headset to reduce the noise of the MRI, which produces loud thumping and humming noises during imaging. MRI scanners are air-conditioned and well-lit. Some of our scanners have music you can listen to during the test.

If you have an exam that requires an injection of intravenous contrast material, it is normal to feel coolness and a flushing sensation for a minute or two following the injection. The intravenous needle may cause you some discomfort when it is inserted and once it is removed, you may experience some bruising. There is also a very small chance of irritation of your skin at the site of the IV tube insertion.

Typically, this type of MRI exam will take approximately 30 to 60 minutes to complete.