MRI scan of brain before and after contrast

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What is an MRI of the brain?

MRI, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging, is a painless test that produces clear images of organs like the brain and other structures within the body. It uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these detailed images. It does not use X-rays.

The machine itself consists of a large, tube-shaped magnet. When you lie inside, the magnetic field temporarily realigns water molecules in your body. Radio waves cause these aligned atoms to produce faint signals, which are used to create cross-sectional MRI images. 

Why would I get an MRI of the brain?

The procedure is one of the most important techniques in imaging. This is because it can produce high-quality images that help in diagnosing brain problems. MRI scan can diagnose many diseases that include:

  1. Stroke
  2. Brain tumors
  3. Aneurysms of cerebral blood vessels
  4. Eye and inner ear diseases
  5. Multiple sclerosis

What happens during an MRI?

An MRI is a painless procedure that can take anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour.

Before the procedure, you will be asked to remove anything that might affect the magnetic imaging. These things include eyeglasses, jewelry, watches, dentures, hearing aids, and wigs.

During the procedure, you lie down on a bed that will slide into the MRI machine, and a technologist will be monitoring you from another room. You will be required to lay still during the procedure. Also, you will be given earplugs to wear because you may hear the equipment making some sounds that can last for several minutes.

In some cases, a contrast material will be injected through an intravenous line into a vein in your arm. This will enhance the details of the image. 

What to expect after an MRI?

You can resume your daily activities and normal diet after the procedure is over. If a sedative was given, please follow the instructions given to you by the radiologist like having a person with you to drive you home.


The MRI brain scan should help your neurologist or surgeon to examine your brain and detect any disease. A radiologist will analyze the images taken from your brain and send the results to your physician within 24 hours. Your physician will discuss important findings and the next steps with you.


Mayo Clinic: MRI

Cleveland Clinic: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

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