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Advanced neurodiagnostic imaging tests create pictures of the brain or spinal cord. The two main imaging tests are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT).
An MRI involves a completely different type of technology based on a powerful magnet to obtain images. MRIs do not rely on ionizing radiation. CT uses low levels of ionizing radiation to obtain images, slightly more than an X-ray. MRIs and CTs allow our neurologists at Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California to expertly diagnose disorders of the central nervous system and plan treatment.
If your doctor has recommended an advanced neurodiagnostic imaging procedure in Sacramento or the surrounding areas, the experts at Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California can walk you through every step to help you feel comfortable. Find a Doctor to learn more.
If you have signs and symptoms of a neurologic or neurovascular condition, a CT or MRI scan can help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Doctors also use CT and MRI scans of the brain and spinal cord to monitor known conditions and determine if treatment is working.
A doctor might order a positron emission tomography (PET) scan after an MRI or CT scan as a follow-up. PET scans are very sensitive tests that can detect even minor changes in brain activity.
Advanced neurodiagnostic imaging tests are outpatient procedures you have at a Dignity Health imaging center or in one of our hospitals’ radiology departments. CT and MRI tests are noninvasive and painless, so you will not need anesthesia. The procedure could take anywhere from 30 minutes to two and a half hours.
With an MRI, you will receive an injection of dye to make certain structures show up better on the image. For a PET scan, you receive an injection of a very small amount of a radioactive substance. It flows to the brain and marks up active areas. PET scanners detect the radioactivity to show areas of increased and decreased brain activity.
For all three types of imaging tests, you have to lie extremely still so the images come out clearly.
After your neurodiagnostic imaging is finished you can resume your daily routine if you have not had sedation. If you have been sedated, you make need someone to drive you home. You will have a follow-up appointment with your neurologist after he or she receives the test results.