How To Read A Brain MRI Radiology Report

How can I understand my MRI report?

Part 1

The initial portion will contain demographic information, which will allow anyone looking at the report to identify the patient as well the location where the study was performed.

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Part 2

Next will be a brief description of the exam performed (for example, “MRI Brain w/o contrast”) and the date.

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Part 3

This may then be followed by a section describing the History or Indication – why are you getting the exam?

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Part 4

Next, there should be a paragraph describing how the exam was performed. This may include information about the specific sequences (sets of pictures) employed, the strength of the magnet (MRI scanner), and, if contrast dye was used, the specific type and dosage. This specific section is important if a subsequent follow-up study is needed, so that the same exam is performed to enable an apples-to-apples comparison.

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Part 5

Following this will be the body of the report, which will include all the findings seen by the radiologist (normal and/or abnormal). This will be the longest section of the report. The format of this section can be varied – including free-text verbiage in a paragraph form or what is termed a structured report. In this instance, you will see individual lines detailing the components of the structures seen on the scan (ventricles, white matter, etc.). Some radiologists may initially discuss the abnormal (“positive”) findings before the normal aspects.

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Part 6

If any recommendations and/or follow-up are made, this may appear next.

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Part 7

Finally, the last aspect will be the Impression or Conclusion. This is typically a sentence or two giving the Radiologist’s overall impression as to what the examination shows.

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Part 8

The report will be signed (most likely electronically) by the Radiologist who interpreted the study. His/her contact info may also appear.

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Dr. Edmond Knopp is a Neuroradiologist with international recognition in tumor imaging. He has over 26 years of private practice and academic experience.  Dr. Knopp was on faculty at NYU School of Medicine for over 20 + years. While at NYU Dr. Knopp served multiple roles including Director of Neuroradiology and most recently Associate Chairman for Quality, Technology and Safety. He is a graduate of Emory University and received his Medical Doctorate from the State University of NY – Downstate. He was a surgical resident for 2 years followed by a Radiology Residency and a 2-year Neuroradiology Fellowship. He is a senior member of the ASNR and an American Board of Radiology examiner recently receiving a Lifetime Service Award in 2015. He has over 80 publications and has given hundreds of international and national presentations.

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