Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a painless test that produces detailed images of the brain along with the skull. An MRI machine uses radio waves and magnetic field for creating the images. The test is also known as head MRI or a cranial MRI. An MRI scan is different from an X-ray and CT scan. An MRI scan combines images to create a 3D picture of the internal structures. An MRI scan is more effective than other scans at detecting abnormalities in the small structures of the brain such as the brainstem and pituitary gland. Sometimes, to better visualize certain abnormalities and structures, a contrast agent is given through an intravenous line(IV).
You need to inform the medical staff if you are having any metal item like artificial joints, vascular stents, brain aneurysm clips or inner ear implants in your body. You also need to remove the metal things you are wearing like sunglasses, jewelry, pens, hairpins, etc because these items might interfere with the images. You may also be asked by the medical staff to change into a hospital gown. You also need to carry a satisfactory prescription by the doctor before entering the scanner room. You also need to give your signed consent for the scanning procedure to proceed further.
MRI scan of the brain with the skull is used to:
During a brain MRI, you are asked to lie down on an examination table which then slides into to MRI machine. The table slides into a large magnet shaped opened tube. After you enter the tube, the technician will monitor you from another room and will take several pictures of the brain. The whole test normally takes 30-60 minutes and is a risk-free test. If required, the technician will insert a contrast solution through an IV line because it will help the MRI machine to make a clearer picture of certain parts of the brain. You are only required to remain in a standstill position for the entire procedure.