Brain scans — diagnostic imaging procedures of the head, skull and brain — are essential for diagnosing a range of neurological conditions, including brain injury, tumors, hydrocephalus, aneurysm, stroke and other diseases.
Most of these tests are administered by a radiologist or technologist, who then sends the results to your doctor.
Once your doctor has reviewed and interpreted the results of your test(s), he or she makes a diagnosis if it is possible and works with you to determine next steps.
Depending on the symptoms, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following imaging tests.
An arteriogram involves the injection of a small amount of contrast medium into your bloodstream. (Contrast medium is a substance that makes veins, arteries and other structures more visible.) The radiologist can then X-ray the veins and arteries in your brain to look for narrowing vessels, bleeding or blockages.
Computed Tomography (CT Scan)
A brain CT is when an X-ray beam moves in a circle around the head, so it can capture cross-sectional views of the brain and surrounding structures.
Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA)
CT angiography, or CTA, combines a CT scan with an injection of a contrast medium to produce pictures of blood vessels and tissues in the brain.
By placing electrodes on your scalp, the technologist can record the electrical activity of your brain. EEG can be part of the diagnostic work-up for epilepsy and other disorders.
Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
Magnetic resonance angiography — also called a magnetic resonance angiogram, or MRA — is a type of MRI that looks specifically at the body’s blood vessels. It is a less invasive procedure than a traditional angiogram.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Combining radiofrequencies, powerful magnets and a computer interface, MRI gives your doctor a clear and detailed view of soft tissue and organs in the body, including the brain.
Magnetic Resonance Venography (MRV)
MRV is a diagnostic procedure that involves an injection of dye and a combination of large magnets and a computer to view the veins carrying blood from the brain.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
A PET scan is a nuclear medicine imaging technique that shows your doctor the structure and function of the brain, along with subtle changes in cell activity seen at the onset of certain diseases, such as cancer.