Benefits vs. Risks of a MRI of the Head
- MRI is a noninvasive imaging technique that does not involve exposure to ionizing radiation.
- MR images of the soft-tissue structures of the body—such as the heart, liver and many other organs— is more likely in some instances to identify and accurately characterize diseases than other imaging methods. This detail makes MRI an invaluable tool in early diagnosis and evaluation of many focal lesions and tumors.
- MRI has proven valuable in diagnosing a broad range of conditions, including cancer, heart and vascular disease, and muscular and bone abnormalities.
- MRI enables the discovery of abnormalities that might be obscured by bone with other imaging methods.
- MRI allows doctors to assess the biliary system noninvasively and without contrast injection.
- The contrast material used in MRI exams is less likely to produce an allergic reaction than the iodine-based materials used for conventional X-rays and CT scanning.
- MRI provides a noninvasive alternative to X-ray, angiography and CT for diagnosing problems of the heart and blood vessels.
- The MRI poses almost no risk to the average patient when appropriate safety guidelines are followed.
- There are risks of excessive sedation (if used). The technologist or nurse monitors your vital signs to minimize this risk.
- Although the strong magnetic field is not harmful in itself, implanted medical devices that contain metal may malfunction or cause problems during an MRI exam.
- There is a slight risk of an allergic reaction if contrast material is injected. Such reactions usually are mild and easily controlled by medication. If you experience allergic symptoms, a radiologist or other physician will be available for immediate assistance.
- Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis is currently a recognized, but rare, complication of MRI believed to be caused by the injection of high doses of MRI contrast material in patients with very poor kidney function.