What Conditions Can An MRI Scan Detect?

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a medical test that uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the inside of your body. It can be used to diagnose a wide range of conditions, from traumatic brain injury to tumors.

This post closely examines some of the conditions that an MRI scan can help diagnose. 

Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a type of brain damage that can occur when the head is suddenly and violently shaken or hit. TBIs can range from mild concussions to more severe injuries, such as bruising, bleeding, and swelling of the brain. In some cases, TBIs can lead to long-term problems, such as seizures, memory problems, and difficulties with movement and balance.

When a person has a TBI, they may have changes in their brain tissue that can be seen on an MRI scan. For example, an MRI may show areas of bleeding or swelling. They appear as dark spots on the images.

MRI scans can also be used to assess damage to the brain's white matter. This is the part of the brain that contains the nerve fibers that carry messages between different areas of the brain. TBIs can cause changes in the structure of the white matter, which appear as bright spots on MRI images. This imaging technique can also be used to monitor the healing process after a TBI.


Tumors are abnormal growths of tissue that can occur anywhere in the body. They can be benign, which means they don't have cancerous cells, or malignant, which means the cells are cancerous.

Benign tumors do not usually spread to other body parts and are not usually life-threatening. Malignant tumors can grow and spread quickly, which poses life-threatening risks. These tumors require treatment with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.

MRI scans can be used to detect both benign and malignant tumors. The images can show the size and location of the tumor. The images may appear differently depending on whether the tumor is benign or malignant.

Benign tumors tend to have well-defined borders, while malignant tumors often have irregular borders. An MRI scan may be used to guide a needle biopsy, where a needle is inserted into the suspected malignant tumor to remove a tissue sample. This tissue can then be tested for cancerous cells.

Speak to your doctor to understand more about MRI scans and what you need to do to prepare for one.