MRI Brain

Your doctor has recommend you for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your head. MRI imaging uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed images of organs, soft tissues, bone and virtually all other internal body structures. MRI of the brain allows physicians to examine the anatomy of the brain; determine precisely which part of the brain is handling critical functions such as thought, speech, movement and sensation, which is called brain mapping; help assess the effects of stroke, trauma or degenerative disease (such as Alzheimer's) on brain function; and monitor the growth and function of brain tumors. In some cases, the flow of cerebral spinal fluid will also be analyzed.

Our team of specialist physicians can use these images to distinguish normal, healthy tissue and diseased tissue. Our team of specialists is led by Barry D. Pressman, MD, chief of Neuroradiology, and by Franklin Moser, MD, clinical chief of Neuroradiology and Interventional Neuroradiology.

Before Arriving for Your Exam

  • You can print and fill out the MRI Questionnaire and the MRI and Pregnancy form, if applicable, from the Pre-Registration Questionnaire page before arriving to speed the registration process.
  • You may eat and drink before this exam.
  • If you are claustrophobic (fearful of small, enclosed areas) or experience pain when lying on their back for more than 30 minutes, your referring physician may prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the procedure. The imaging physicians at Cedars-Sinai will not prescribe these medications for you.
  • If you plan to take relaxation medication before your exam, it is our policy that you come with someone who can drive you home.
  • For studies that involve IV contrast: If you have veins that are small or hard to find, or have a port, please arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled arrival time.
  • Please leave your jewelry and valuables at home.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing.
  • If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
  • Although we do not anticipate any delay in your scheduled appointment, we recommend that you bring a book, a magazine or a music player to help pass the time while you are waiting.
  • You may also bring a CD to listen to while being scanned.

After Arriving

  • Before the exam, you must inform the technologist, radiology nurse and/or physician if you have allergies, are pregnant or are nursing.
  • You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire which will determine if an MR scan is safe for you. People with various implants (usually metallic) or with metal in their bodies (including some tattoos) may have difficulty with an MR, which utilizes a strong magnetic field. The imaging physician needs to be informed of any of these potential problems.

During the Exam

  • For this exam, you will be asked to lay down on the scanning table, head-first with arms at your side.
  • Coils (special devices to improve image quality) may be placed around your head.
  • The scanning table will slide your whole body into the magnet.
  • During the scan you will not feel anything, but will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds.
  • Earplugs will be provided to help mask the noise and to allow you to listen to music.
  • In most cases, the imaging physician requests a contrast agent (dye) to improve the quality of the images. The contrast agent is injected into a vein in the arm, which may cause a cool sensation.
  • As pictures are taken, you must hold very still, and in some cases, hold you breath.
  • The technologist is always able to see and hear you during the exam.
  • The MRI exam takes approximately 45 minutes.

After the Exam

  • Your films will be examined by an imaging physician and a report sent to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you.
  • If you took relaxation medication, you will need someone to drive you home.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.