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Receive a Brain Scan

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of a neurological disorder, your doctor may order a brain scan. This term refers to several different types of imaging tests.

Dignity Health hospitals and imaging centers offer complete neurological diagnostic testing, including brain scans, in the Bay Area. Find a Doctor near you today.

Why Our Neurologists Perform Brain Scans

A brain scan can help your doctor evaluate structures within the brain and how well they are functioning. It may also be used to help diagnose or monitor a number of neurological diseases or disorders, including:

What to Expect During a Brain Scan Test

There are three major types of brain scans: computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET). They may be performed at a Dignity Health imaging center or a hospital on an outpatient basis.

Here is what to expect for the main types of brain scans:

  • CT scan of the brain: CT scan imaging uses ionizing radiation (X-rays). The procedure may be performed with or without the use of contrast dye. You will lie on a special table that slides through the narrow opening of the imaging machine.
  • MRI brain scan: MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce an image. Like a CT scan, an MRI can be performed with or without contrast dye. During the procedure, you will lie on a table that moves through the scanner.
  • PET scan of the brain: While CT and MRI scans look at the structure of the brain, a PET scan can show actual brain function. This test involves the injection of a radioactive tracer substance through an IV in your hand or arm. The tracer takes about one hour to flow through your body. Then, you will lie on a table that slides through the scanning machine.

If you find it difficult to lie still for extended periods of time, or fear claustrophobia while inside the scanner, talk to your doctor. Mild sedation may be available to make the scan easier for you.

Recovery After a Brain Scan

Unless you received sedation during your imaging scan, you will be free to go home and resume normal activities after a CT, MRI, or PET scan. If you received a sedative for the procedure, you will not be permitted to drive yourself home and you will be required to spend a few minutes in a recovery area before being discharged.

Brain scans offer a way for your neurologist to “see inside” your skull without having to do surgery. As a diagnostic and monitoring tool, a brain scan can be an invaluable part of your doctor’s treatment process. You can trust Dignity Health to provide comprehensive, personal care for all types of neurological conditions.

Dignity Health performs brain scans in the Bay Area.