Multiple Sclerosis - MRI Scan

MRI of the brain and spinal cord is one of the most common and preferred method of diagnosing MS (Multiple Sclerosis). MRI scans confirm a diagnosis in over 90 per cent of people with MS.

Facts about MS

  • Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system.
  • in UK, more than 100,000 people are diagnosed with MS
  • The symptoms are normally visible between the age of 20 to 40
  • About 75% of the cases are found in women and 25% in men
  • Currently there is no cure for MS, however it could be managed by treatments and medication

How is MRI helpful?

  • MRI scan detect the damaged areas (lesions) in your brain and the whole spine
  • MRI is also helpful in monitoring the growth of MS and can confirm if the treatment is succeeding

What is an MRI Scan?

  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scan uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to detailed views of the organs, tissues and skeletal system.
  • It is a non-invasive way to diagnose body structure and problems by producing high resolution images.

How is MRI Scan different from CT Scan?

  • MRI can show clearer differences between normal and abnormal tissue while CT Scans can sometimes provide more details about the hearts, lungs, pelvis, hips, reproductive systems, bladder and gastrointestinal tract.
  • MRI Scans are safe and are commonly used for preventive checks.
  • MRI Scans does not involves any radiation, while CT Scans involves radiation.
  • MRI Scans takes more time than CT Scans and are generally more noisier.

What are the different types of MRI Scanners available?

  • 1.5 Tesla MRI - These are conventional MRI machines.
  • 3 Tesla MRI ( 3T MRI) - produces higher resolution images, are less noisy and are quicker than 1.5 Tesla MRI.
  • Open or Upright MRI - for claustrophobic and bariatric patients. In this MRI machine a patient can stand or sit on a chair while having the Scan.

What is a Contrast?

  • Sometimes a referring doctor may suggest a contrast injection that is used to enhance the images.
  • Generally the contrast material used has a metal called Gadolinium.

How long does it take to do a MRI Scan?

Usually the Scans take roughly 20 for each body part covered in the Scan. Open/Upright MRI are longer in duration.

How soon are the reports available?

The MRI Scan images are available soon after the Scan. These images are studied by a medical practitioner (Radiologist) and the final report is produced and shared within 2 to 4 days in most cases.

What are the risks and restrictions in MRI Scan?

  • There are no know side effects of an MRI Scan.
  • The Scans are not painful, but the contrast material can make you feel warm.
  • There may be some guidelines about eating and drinking before the Scan.
  • Patients are not given contrast if they have poor kidney function or renal impairment.
  • Very rarely people may have allergies with the contrast material used.
  • Patients who may be pregnant, need to check with their doctors before undergoing an MRI Scan.
  • Metallic implants or joints can distort the images.
  • Patients with artificial heart valves, pacemakers, metal clips, metal fragments, ear implants, chemotherapy and insulin pumps.
  • Open or Upright MRI machines can normally bear weights of up to 400 lbs.


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