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The point of heading to a clinic for an MRI scan is to find out what you’re suffering with. And your clinician can do just that, using the diagnostic test results gathered from your scan. But how are they created, how are they interpreted, and what can they tell us? The point of this quick guide is to explain just that. So read on if you’d like to know more!
Who interprets your diagnostic test results?
The first thing that you should know is that it’s a radiologist who will interpret your diagnostic test results. A radiologist is a special kind of doctor, who has been through extensive training specifically for diagnostic scans like MRI. This training takes years and years, and plenty of commitment. It’s a specialism, like when a doctor specialises in pediatrics or in psychiatric medicine. Radiologists can further specialise in particular kinds of diagnostic scans. The three most popular kinds of scan are X-rays, CT scans, and MRI scans. Sometimes, radiologists work with ultrasound scans too.
You might also have heard the term radiographer. But being a radiologist and being a radiographer isn’t the same thing, even though the two terms sound alike! Radiologists are the people who perform the scan; who help you into the MRI scanner, talk to you during the procedure, and capture the images of your brain scan. Some radiographers are also tasked with administering radiotherapy treatment to patients who are being treated for cancer. These jobs are complex enough on their own! But radiographers aren’t trained to interpret the scans they take. So what will happen is that after your scan is complete, your radiographer will pass on your file to the clinic’s radiologist. The radiologist will then look at your scans to figure out if anything’s the matter.
What can a radiologist look for in your diagnostic test results?
For starters, almost every part of the body can be studies by an MRI scan. That’s anything from your head to your toes! And because MRI scanners are completely safe, there’s no problem with using them to study even the most sensitive parts of the body- like the brain. Let’s take a look at some of the things that an MRI scan can pick up.
- In the head and neck area, MRI is usually used to find the results of traumatic brain injury or tumors. But it can also look for developing conditions like multiple sclerosis and dementia. If you’re suffering from recurring headaches, an MRI scan can be used to try and find the reason why you’re getting them.
- MRI scans can check for problems occurring in the circulatory system. The most obvious examples are blood clots and aneurysms. Any kind of blockage is fairly easy to spot using an MRI scan, and it’s important to find them before they cause any unnecessary damage.
- MRI scanning is sensitive to any changes that may have occurred in the bone structure, too. This could be bone fractures or breaks, of course; but it can also be used to examine the spine for herniated discs, spinal cord compression and the like.
How do diagnostic test results reveal issues to your radiologist?
As you can probably tell, your radiologist can use the results of your MRI to diagnose all kinds of problems. But most issues- particularly those that are less obvious- require the expertise of a radiologist to uncover. So how does an MRI scan give them the clues they need to figure out what’s wrong?
An MRI scan is similar to a CT scan. The only difference is that an MRI scan uses both magnetism and radio waves in order to create a series of images at cross sections throughout your body. To put it as simply as possible, the magnetism of an MRI scan realigns the atoms in your cells, and the radio waves pick up on those microscopic changes to create a fantastically detailed image. This gives your radiologist a clear image of the tissue in your body, which allows them to diagnose you.
Let’s take a tumor as an example. A brain tumor will appear as a solid mass in an MRI scan, which is clearly visible to your radiologist. As you can see in the image to the left, brain tumors stand out clearly; you can say the same about conditions like late stage dementia, which are caused by lesions on the brain. These lesions appear as small flecks in your MRI scan. And of course, something like a slipped disc or broken bone will be obvious to spot. Certain conditions like early stage multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease are more difficult to spot, and require a trained eye that’s seen those conditions before.
Why not contact a clinic today?
If you’re looking for more info on MRI scanning, you’re in the right place. We regularly update our blog with more and more info that could help you, covering topics from how MRI scanning works to what makes it useful for studying certain problems like brain tumors. If you still have any questions about the process of interpreting diagnostic test results, why not contact us? Our friendly staff are always happy to answer any questions that you might have. After all, having an MRI scan can be a daunting experience. We’ll be here every step of the way to help you through it.