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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Tests and Exams > Cranial MRI
      Category : Health Centers > Brain and Nervous System

Cranial MRI

Alternate Names : MRI, Head, MRI, Cranial, Cranial Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cranial, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Head

Overview & Description | Preparation & Expectations | Results and Values

Magnetic resonance imaging, known as MRI, is a noninvasive imaging technique. It is used to view organs, soft tissue, bone, and other internal body structures. In a cranial MRI, the person's head is exposed to radio waves while in a magnetic field. A cross-sectional picture of the skull and brain is produced by energy emitted from hydrogen atoms in the body's cells. The person is not exposed to radiation during this test.

Who is a candidate for the test?

A cranial MRI can be used for several reasons. It is the most sensitive type of exam to identify:

  • brain tumors
  • strokes
  • neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis
  • brain abnormalities in people who have dementia
  • diseases of the pituitary gland
  • abnormalities of the vision pathway
  • inner ear disorders
  • How is the test performed?

    Before the test, the doctor will ask if the person:

  • has any drug allergies or history of allergic reaction to medicines
  • is allergic to shellfish or to foods with added iodine such as table salt
  • has experienced claustrophobia, which is a fear of enclosed or small spaces. If this is a problem, mild sedating medicine may be given.
  • A woman will also be asked if she might be pregnant.

    As the test begins, the person lies on a flat platform. The platform then slides into a donut-shaped machine where the scanning takes place. To help keep the final images clear, the person must lie very still during the whole test.

    A special substance called a contrast agent is often given before or during the test. The contrast agent is used to enhance internal structures and improve image quality. Typically, this agent is injected into a vein in the arm.

    The scanning process is painless. However, the part of the body being imaged may feel a bit warm. This feeling is harmless and is nothing to be concerned about. The person will hear loud banging and knocking noises during many stages of the exam. Earplugs are provided for people who don't like the noises.

    After the test, the person is asked to wait until the images are viewed to see if more pictures are needed. If they look OK, the person can leave.


    Next section


    Cranial MRI: Preparation & Expectations

    Author: Stephanie Slon, BA
    Reviewer: Kathleen A. MacNaughton, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 10/10/02

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