MRI for epilepsy in children and adults
What is an MRI study and why is it performed for epilepsy? What does magnetic resonance imaging show and until what age do children need general anesthesia?
If the EEG results show focal (focal) epileptic activity, there is a
need for an MRI.
An MRI test for epilepsy is performed to find the cause of the disease, such as structural changes in the brain, or to refute the presence of dangerous processes, such as tumors, that lead to seizures. Information about the cause of the disease will help doctors choose the appropriate treatment and correctly diagnose each individual patient.
What is MRI
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a modern type of diagnostics that uses a magnetic field and radio waves. Checking helps to obtain an image in the form of tissue sections of a particular organ. In the case of epilepsy, a brain study is required.
MRI does not use ionized radiation, which is used in x-rays or computed tomography. Due to this, this study is a safer method that can be used more often, without x-rays or computed tomography.
With the help of research, specialists can determine the structure of
the brain, as well as the presence of any anomalies: tumors, pathological foci,
any structural disorders, vascular anomalies, places of vasodilation, etc.
MRI of the brain with contrast involves an injection into a vein (if necessary, contrast). Contrasting highlights the vascular system of the brain and visualizes the slightest changes in the area of soft tissues, veins and arteries. In addition, no other invasive procedures are performed. The study is completely painless, and therefore you should not be afraid of any discomfort during its conduct.
How is an MRI of the head done?
The procedure is as follows: the patient lies down on a specialized mobile table, and his head is fixed with restraints, which prevents movement. During MRI of the brain, it is required to lie still, as any movement leads to inaccurate results and a fuzzy image, which makes it difficult to decipher.
During an MRI of the brain, a child under 6-7 years old is given anesthesia (general anesthesia). However, in some cases, children may need anesthesia at a later age. This need arises when children do not follow instructions or cannot control their movements.
In our experience, all parents, without exception, are afraid of having a test under general anesthesia. However, the chances of any complications after anesthesia are extremely low.
In the event that the child feels uncomfortable and cannot be left alone in the room, most medical centers allow the parents to be present in the room during the study.
How long does an MRI take?
The study lasts an average of 30 minutes, but with the use of a contrast agent, the time may increase to 45 minutes. It all depends on the equipment of the clinic in which the MRI is performed, as well as the individual characteristics of the patient and the goals of the test.
How often can an MRI be done?
In most cases, a single MRI examination of the brain for epilepsy is sufficient. Repeated checks are recommended only in cases where the patient has neoplasms or processes in the brain that can change, for example, in the case of a benign tumor that has a chance of increasing in size.
Contraindications for brain MRI
Absolute contraindications for magnetic resonance imaging are:
- metal implants implanted in the body, as the metal is heated under the action of the apparatus;
- stimulators implanted in the body: pacemakers, insulin pumps, or vagus nerve stimulators.
However, not all implants are prohibited from MRI. In modern medicine, magnetically sensitive components are practically not used anymore, and therefore, before conducting a study, it is important to clarify what material the implants are made of.
MRI with contrast also has contraindications, which include:
- pregnancy (for the entire duration of pregnancy);
- kidney failure;
- allergy to the contrast agent.
Additional checks for epilepsy
In order to make an accurate diagnosis and recommend the necessary treatment for epilepsy, it is important to undergo a number of studies, the most important of which is the EEG. In addition, doctors may recommend blood tests and an MRI, but this is not necessary in all cases of epilepsy.