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How an MRI Can Help Diagnose Injuries From a Car Accident

Car Accident Injuries MRI Diagnosis in Brooklyn NY

Regardless of the severity, a car accident can be a terrifying experience. Afterward, your body pumps adrenaline liberally, obscuring the immediate effects of an impact. While this can allow you to do incredible things under stress, it can also delay the time it takes for you to realize the full extent of your injuries. Worse, many such injuries, like brain and spinal cord injuries, cause vague symptoms that are hard to diagnose. For these reasons, many accident victims have trouble finding the right diagnoses after an accident. Visiting a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) center can help.

MRI Scan After a Car Accident: When Should You Get One?

Roadway accidents account for approximately 40% of spinal injury patients. They also account for about 35% of traumatic brain injuries. Because the prognosis for these conditions are best when diagnosed immediately, doctors often order tests as soon as you visit the hospital.

When you report the details of your accident to your doctor, he or she can determine whether a diagnostic imaging test is necessary. Normally, patients with symptoms of spinal or neurological damage are immediately offered an MRI scan. Your doctor may base his or her decision on a few factors. These can include:

  • Symptoms
  • Urgency
  • Radiation tolerance
  • Age
  • Pre-existing conditions

If your accident was severe but didn’t cause any immediate symptoms, your doctor may order a computed tomography (CT) scan, which is quicker but less detailed than MRI scans. If you’ve had many CT scans but haven’t shown signs of a severe injury, you may not be allowed a new scan. CT scanning exposes you to modest amounts of ionizing radiation that can increase your risk of cancer over time.

If you are older or have preexisting conditions that could increase your risk of spinal injury, you may want to request an MRI regardless of your current symptoms. Doctors are often happy to discuss options for different imaging modalities, as well as why you may or may not want to have a test performed. Consider that finding a good center that has an MRI machine in Brooklyn can give you an important legal foothold. If your insurance or another party tries to refute your claim that your accident caused an injury, an MRI scan center can provide proof that any visible damage was a direct result of a vehicular impact.

What Is It Like To Get an MRI?

While the process of obtaining magnetic imaging takes longer than a CT scan, sitting through an imaging session can help your doctor diagnose your condition effectively. For conditions that involve soft tissues, such as the brain or connective tissues, radiologists generally recommend an MRI exam over a CT scan.

Because it doesn’t emit harmful radiation, doctors generally consider MRI scanners to be safe. There are some risks for select groups, but these can be mitigated by communicating clearly with your healthcare professionals. As you will be exposed to strong magnets, a radiology staff member may not allow you into a machine if you have a mechanical implant such as a pacemaker, insulin pump, or cochlear implant.

A magnetic resonance image is a three-dimensional image created by a complex atomic process. Essentially, an MRI machine creates a powerful magnetic field that forces protons to align themselves with the field’s magnetism. When the machine’s radio waves are turned off, protons realign themselves, creating detectable electromagnetic energy. Because this process is extremely precise, a patient must remain very still for the duration of an imaging session.

Though some patients are intimidated by the prospect of an extended session inside a sophisticated MRI machine, the length of the process depends on which area of the body needs to be surveyed. Some scans take as little as 15 minutes while others can be closer to an hour and a half. Assistants usually provide hearing protection and soothing music to reduce patients’ stress levels during a procedure. Patients cannot have metal or electronic devices with them in the MRI scanner.

More advanced MRI techniques, like functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), measure brain activity in real time by tracking blood flow. Functional MRI scan are often used to detect traumatic brain injury.

How Does an MRI Scanner Diagnose Conditions?

When viewing your MRI images after an accident, a radiologist looks for abnormalities in both soft tissue structures and bones. Since the computer your doctor uses presents images in only two dimensions, he or she can obtain the third dimension by clicking through the cross-sections of your affected body part. This allows for an extremely comprehensive picture of your body’s reaction to stress or trauma. A single session can reveal:

  • Severe brain injury
  • Tendon and ligament damage
  • Spinal cord injuries, including herniated discs
  • Indicators of nerve damage
  • Broken bones

As all of these injuries are relatively common after an accident, an MRI after car accident can direct your medical care. Once you have obtained a diagnosis, your doctor can refer you to other specialists who can better help with your condition.

He or she may also advise you on steps you should take immediately to mitigate potential harm. If you have spinal damage, for example, you may be given an immobilizing device. If you have another kind of traumatic injury, you may have to rest for a prescribed period of time, or undergo more aggressive procedures such as brain surgery.

This first stage of treatment is often critical for minimizing the negative impact an accident can have on your life. An MRI Brooklyn technicians perform can allow for an immediate diagnosis or indicate where further exploratory treatment might be necessary. Caretakers assigned to you later may refer to your imaging in order to better understand your condition. While getting an image may seem daunting while you are still under the stress of an accident, it is frequently an important aid to your long-term care.

Should I Push for an MRI After a Car Accident?

Many patients worry about whether they will be able to afford the procedures they receive after a serious accident. In many cases, auto insurance can cover the cost or a portion of the cost. If your symptoms are extremely acute, your doctor may simply order a test without first discussing your options. As with any voluntary procedure, specifically requesting a magnetic imaging session is a personal choice that you must make on your own.

If you’ve experienced an acute injury after a traumatic vehicle accident, an imaging session at an MRI imaging center can help you receive the best care and provide you with important legal documentation. Medical professionals are trained to do what they believe is best for their patients. You should, therefore, defer to their advice and ask clarifying questions whenever you have them.