Brain MRI

This is a subject that I get asked about a lot by students. MRIs are tougher that CTs to read and yet can offer a lot of diagnostic assistance. I’ll be honest, 99% of the time, I rely on the neurologists or neuroradiologists to read these studies. That works for me because, honestly, we never really get these studies stat at our place. So, almost never is an MRI so important that I have to know right away what it shows. But, I’ve become convinced that that is a sort of lazy attitude. And so, I’m making an effort to learn how to better read Brain MRIs. So, you’re in luck, because as I learn, I’m going to pass that on to you. For now, what I’m passing on are a bunch of good resources.

Radiopaedia is ALWAYS a good place to start when looking for all things radiology. They have a really nice Brain MRI course that was a live event a few years back. You can register for the course still and watch the recordings, but there is a cost. For most of us who just want the basics, there is a pre-course video on YouTube that serves as a nice intro.

Rutgers neurology has another really nice video as well. This Brain Imaging Crash Course covers more than just MRI, they address MRI as well as head CT in a nice case-based format (you know I love case-based learning). It doesn’t go terribly in depth, but I suppose that’s why it’s called a crash course instead of “Everything You Need to Know About Brain Imaging.” Another good starter.

If the written word is more your speed, here are two great resources. The first is an excellent Tweetorial introduction to Brain MRI from Lee Alhilali, MD.

And finally, a great blog post from Tom Lawson called simply, “How to read a Brain MRI.” Simple and straightforward, written by a neurointensivist nurse practitioner, it covers what you need to know in neurocritical care. Incidentally, his blog “neurosciencecriticalcare” is a good site and worth bookmarking if you spend time in the neuro ICU.

There you have a few basic intro resources for reading brain MRIs. Some of you will no doubt want to go deeper, but this is a great starting place. For me, this is what I need to know right now. I’ll let you know if I decide to delve more into all the depths of MRI.

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