What Does MRI Brain Scan Determine?

Written by rebecca sundt
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A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scan can detect what other tests cannot. It provides detailed pictures of the brain and nerve tissues as well as blood flow, blood vessels and fluid around the brain and spinal cord.

Brain Abnormalities

A brain disorder can be determined if the MRI scan shows abnormal brain development. It can also help doctors detect hormonal disorders such as acromegaly, galactorrhea and Cushing syndrome.


An MRI scan also shows doctors if there is a subarachnoid or intracranial haemorrhage, meaning bleeding in the brain.

Infections and Tumors

Brain infections and tumours may turn up on MRI scans--conditions that don't reveal themselves on other tests such as a cranial CT ("cat") scan, PET scan or skull X-ray.

Multiple Sclerosis

MRI scans are used to detect multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.

Physical Ailments

MRI scans also can determine the cause of frequent headaches and other sensory problems, such as vision or hearing loss, speaking problems and muscle problems such as numbness or tingling.

Psychological Disorders

MRI scans also can detect strokes as well as changes in behavioural and thought centres of the brain. Someone with depression may be given an MRI scan to determine any physiological causes of the condition.

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