What is neuroradiology?

Mayfair • Mar 04, 2019

A hundred years ago, the only way to positively diagnose many neurological disorders was through an autopsy. Today, decades of research into the characteristics of disease and advances in technology have changed neuroscience.

For example, medical imaging has allowed physicians and scientists to see the structure of the brain and changes in brain activity as they occur. In fact, some of the most significant improvements in imaging have occurred over the past 20 years, providing sharper images and more detailed functional information.

Using medical imaging technologies like X-ray, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography (CT), radiology has become an important part of the diagnostic process within neuroscience. A radiologist is a physician, who after obtaining a medical degree undergoes further training in radiology. A neuroradiologist has completed additional specialized training in neuroradiology to focus on interpreting images of the central nervous system – the brain, spinal cord, and surrounding structures.

WHAT DOES NEURORADIOLOGY LOOK AT?

A sub-specialty of radiology, neuroradiology has been around since the 1920s. It can be used to help diagnose and treat brain, spine, head, and neck conditions.

At Mayfair Diagnostics, our very experienced team includes highly qualified technologists and support staff, and specialized neuroradiologists who interpret the images. This helps ensure patients receive a thorough diagnosis, allowing them to save time and focus on treatment options.

WHAT TYPES OF IMAGING DO NEURORADIOLOGISTS INTERPRET?

Any type of medical imaging that produces images related to the central nervous system and its surrounding structures could be reviewed by a neuroradiologist. Depending on your symptoms and medical history any, or a combination, of the following could be requested by your health care practitioner:

  • CT: CT scans use a combination of X-rays and computer technology to provide comprehensive images that help detect a number of neurological conditions, such as acute stroke, intracranial bleeding, aneurysms and other vascular abnormalities, brain tumours, and bone abnormalities of the head and spine. CT is also great for head and neck imaging, including assessment of the paranasal sinuses and temporal bones, and staging or diagnosis of head and neck tumours. 
  • MRI: MRI exams use radio waves and a strong magnetic field to provide very clear images of the body, without ionizing radiation. MRI is best for diagnosing and monitoring many neurological conditions affecting the brain, such as multiple sclerosis, infections, brain tumours, vascular abnormalities including acute stroke and intracranial bleeding, and for assessing the orbits and pituitary gland. It is also excellent for diagnosing spinal cord abnormalities, including demyelination, tumours, or disc herniations and degenerative changes.
  • Some neuroradiologists are also trained to perform spine intervention procedures that treat neck and back pain.

HOW DO I MAKE SURE A NEURORADIOLOGIST REVIEWS MY IMAGES?

Once the technologist has completed the exam and acquired the requested number of images, they will be reviewed by a neuroradiologist. Mayfair Diagnostics has nine neuroradiologists who review all neurologic CT and MRI studies.

Your health care practitioner will receive a comprehensive report within a few days of your exam. Your doctor will then be able to review your results with you, along with the results of any other test you may have undergone, and determine the next steps in your health care treatment plan.

HOW DO I GET NEUROLOGICAL IMAGING?

To determine what type, or if, medical imaging is appropriate for you, you will need to discuss with your doctor your medical and family history, risk factors, and if there are symptoms, how long symptoms have been present and how they affect daily activities. Your doctor would then provide you with a requisition for a specific procedure, if recommended.

Mayfair Diagnostics offers community-based private CT and MRI services as a complement to the public health care system, but whether public or private these exams must be requested by a health care practitioner. If a private CT or MRI is indicated as a best next course of action, a requisition will be provided and the appointment can be booked.

Mayfair neuroradiologists: Dr. Daryl Bergen, Dr. Chris Chan, Dr. Viesha Ciura, Dr. Peter Dickhoff, Dr. John Fagnou, Dr. Pieter Janse Van Rensburg, Dr. Bijal Patel, Dr. Neil Switzer, Dr. Ryan Wada.


REFERENCES

American Society of Neuroradiology (2017) “What is Neuroradiology?” www.asnr.org. Accessed February 7, 2019.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2005) “Neurological Diagnostic Tests and Procedures Fact Sheet.” www.ninds.nih.gov. Accessed February 7, 2019.

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