Detecting Brain Injury

Technology has come a long way. The ability to take pictures of the brain has revolutionized how we detect and treat brain injury. Two types of “ pictures” are generally taken of brain injury. The first is called a CT Scan (computerized tomography). The second is called an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Both of these techniques show the cross section of the brain, and are excellent tools at showing exactly where the brain injury occurred, along with the severity of said injury.

A CT Scan can be done more quickly than an MRI. Particularly here in Ontario, where resources are scarce, the wait time to get an MRI done can take months. It’s even more difficult for people to get MRI’s who live in more remote areas of Ontario. These people often have to drive great distances to more urban centres such as Toronto to get their MRI done.

The CT Scan will show with great accuracy an injury to the brain which will respond to medical or surgical intervention. The CT scan will show the injuries which we’ve discussed above in this edition of the Goldfinger Guide. However, the CT Scan is by no means conclusive.

MRIs will show even greater detail of the brain than you can see on a CT Scan. But, MRIs take much longer to do.

Neither the CT Scan, nor the MRI causes any pain to the accident victim. The head must stay still during the testing. Patients are exposed to radiation during the CT Scan because it’s an x-ray; but the amount of radiation is very minimal. MRIs do not cause any exposure to radiation. They use harmless magnetic fields instead.

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