Why do I Need Contrast for my MRI?

Brain Scans

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive way to take a look at what’s going on inside your body. It uses a magnetic field and radio waves to alter the hydrogen atoms in your body. When they realign themselves, a radio signal is emitted, which is then captured and interpreted by a computer to produce a 2D or 3D image of the scanned area. This image is examined by a radiologist and given to your doctor to aid in your diagnosis.

What is a Contrast MRI?

In some cases, your doctor may request advanced MRI services with contrast. This is a liquid dye solution injected through an IV into your veins. About 30% of MRI scans use a gadolinium-based dye, a paramagnetic metal ion, because of how it travels through magnetic fields.

Right before your MRI scan, a technician will inject the contrast into your veins with an IV. The fluid circulates through your bloodstream and is absorbed in some tissues, making them easier to see. After 10-30 seconds, you’ll be ready for the scan.

Why Would I Need a Contrast MRI?

Most MRI services do not require contrast dye. However, an additional contrast MRI may be requested if a non-contrast MRI has not produced a clear enough image.

Air and hard bone don’t give off an MRI signal, so they appear black or very dark on the scan. Bone marrow, spinal fluid, blood, and soft tissues will vary from black to white. Comparing the light and dark areas helps distinguish between normal and abnormal tissues.

The targeted tissues will be bright white by adding the contrast dye, and the resulting image will have improved quality and clarity over a non-contrast MRI. This helps your radiologist and doctor better see any disease or abnormality inside your body. Then, they can locate the cause of the problem, diagnose it, and develop a treatment plan for you.

Which Types of MRI Require Contrast?

Your doctor will evaluate your health history and your type of problem before recommending an MRI scan with contrast. These MRI services are more common when viewing the head and neck, arteries and veins, and spine.

The contrast dyes are ideal for measuring and assessing brain tumors and other brain-related conditions such as traumatic brain injury, developmental anomalies, multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia, and infection.

When used in arteries and veins, the dye makes them glow bright on the scan to identify aneurysms, blockages of the blood vessels, the blood supply of specific organs, carotid artery disease, and arteriovenous malformations.

Because of its sensitivity to cartilage and bone structure, contrast dye makes it easier to detect herniated discs, pinched nerves, spinal tumors, spinal cord compression, and fractures.

Has Your Doctor Recommended an MRI Scan?

When you need advanced MRI services, contact Advanced Surgical Hospital. Please call us today to schedule your appointment or reach out online with any questions. Same-day, walk-in appointments for MRI Imaging services are welcome and will be accommodated as the schedule permits.