Brain scans are imaging tests used to detect disease or abnormalities in the brain. Brain imaging tests can be an important part of stroke care, as they allow providers to see where and to what extent a stroke has affected your brain. Brain scans can also help diagnose or manage several other health concerns, from birth defects to recent injuries.
Different Types of Brain Imaging Tests
Multiple different types of brain scanning technology are available today, including these three common types:
- Brain MRI scan: An MRI is one of the most effective ways to diagnose a brain tumor. A brain MRI can also help detect multiple sclerosis, prevent aneurysm and stroke, and monitor swelling and inflammation in the brain.
- Brain PET scan: A brain positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a type of brain imaging test that uses a radioactive dye (called a tracer) that is given intravenously or as a gas. The tracer moves through your bloodstream, highlighting certain organs and tissues. A brain PET scan can show how all the brain and its tissues function, while CT and MRI images are only able to show brain structure.
- Head CT scan: A head CT scan allows your provider to look at your brain, as well as your skull, sinuses and even your eye sockets. Just as you would during an X-ray, you must lay still during a CT. Depending on the type of scan you need, you may also be given a contrast dye. A CT scan can detect congenital defects or health concerns, as well as diagnose or monitor brain tumors, stroke or head trauma. Head and brain CTs are especially effective at imaging bones and soft tissue.
Benefits of Brain Imaging Tests
Brain MRIs are especially accurate for diagnosing and managing diseases. An MRI creates a detailed image of the brain, getting multiple angles of multiple parts of the brain to help your provider fully understand your health needs.
A PET scan is even more detailed, and it’s able to show your brain’s function, shape and size. If an MRI or CT scan do not provide enough information, your provider may recommend following up with a PET scan.
Are there any risks to brain imaging tests?
There is risk of radiation exposure from brain CT and PET scans, but the risk is comparatively low. The radiation also does not last long in your body.
If you have diabetes, a brain PET scan may be affected by your blood sugar or insulin levels. Consult with your doctor if you have diabetes and need a PET scan.
Sometimes unremarkable is a good thing.
If a radiologist describes your brain MRI images or the results of other brain scans as “unremarkable,” this means that the scans show your brain is normal.
How We Can Help
American Health Imaging offers leading-edge brain imaging tests in multiple locations. If your provider has recommended an imaging test for you, schedule an appointment or contact us to learn more information.
Curious about whether or not you need a brain scan? Learn more about what can and can’t be seen on these imaging tests.