How To Read a MRI Scan?

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How To Read a MRI Scan?

How to read an MRI scan? – The Standard Approach to follow! 

Reading an MRI imaging is not as easy as it seems! Your doctor or radiology experts can read them carefully & discuss the findings with you. However, when that task falls on your shoulder, that tends to get difficult!

Not anymore!

It is because we have brought up the most systematic approach to reading an MRI scan being an ordinary person with bare medical knowledge. If you follow this approach to read your MRI imaging, you can certainly ace at understanding the abnormality or disease underlying your skin & flesh!

Let us waste no more time and quickly get onto the steps!

Step 1 – Introspection on the Image Details

Steps 1 For How To Read a MRI Scan?

Yes. You have to start reading your MRI scan by looking at the image details minutely!

You have to learn which technique lay used for the MRI sequencing, whether it is a T1 Weighted Technique, T2 Weighted Technique, FLAIR Technique, or STIR Technique! Accordingly, the color contrast shall reveal the various body structures such as grey matter, white matter, bones, fat tissues, and so forth!

You have to see the available image plates and differentiate between the fat-sensitive images & the water-sensitive images.

In case you come across an abnormality right during this step, keep it for consideration, following the clinical questions.

Step 2 – Rechecking Your Information

Steps 2 For How To Read a MRI Scan?

No doubt, you have to be sure that the image plates you received are your internal body imaging and not misplaced with someone else’s MRI imaging while dispatching them! For this purpose, you have to undertake the second step, which is to recheck your information.

You have to check your name, date of birth, and the date & time of your MRI scan.

You have to revisit whether the available image plates deal with the correct body parts; that were to be diagnosed!

Once you are affirmed of it all, you can move ahead to the next step!

Step 3 – Focus on The MRI planes & Sequences

At this step, you have to find out whether the MRI plates have the right sequencing, i.e., they have the axial plane, coronal plane, sagittal plane, and oblique plane.

Typically, the axial plane appears as a red dotted line, the coronal plane appears as green dotted lines, and the sagittal plane appears in yellow dotted lines! You have to keep an eye on them!


Then, you have to look at the sequences. When you look at the T1 Weighted image, the fat tissues will appear bright, and on the other hand, when you look at the T2 Weighted image, both fat & water tissues shall appear bright. In both cases, the bones will appear black & the grey matter will appear grey!

Step 4 – Trace the Abnormal MRI Signals

Your next step in reading the MRI scan is to trace the abnormal signals that are laid out in the images!

In this regard, you have to primarily determine the nature of signal change! By this, I mean you have to acknowledge the type of abnormality, whether it is an abnormal fatty mass in your muscle tissue or watery sac-like structures in your fat tissue!

You have to note down the anatomical location of the abnormality and its size & shape! Yes. You’ve to investigate whether the fatty mass in your muscle tissue lay located near your heart or maybe it is your pelvic muscle floor. You have to learn how big it is & what shape it has – oval or irregular!

You can also compare the T1 and T2 images to see the amount of water & fat present within a definite body part. Herein, if you see that the fatty masses appear dark in the T2 images while it appears accurately in the T1 images, you have to infer that the abnormal signal comes from fat and not water.

Step 5 – Compare the MRI scan images with other previous imaging

While you undertake an MRI after availing of one round of MRI scans or maybe after a CT scan or Ultrasound, you can go forward with this step!

During this time, you already have the images provided in your previous body scan, whichever it be! You have to correlate those images with the recent ones. By doing this, you can understand the current status of your abnormality & how terrific it has become. On the other note, this step shall help you see your health progress after a treatment!

You have to see through the previous cross-section images if any!

Besides, you must remember that blood test reports will not be of any help at this stage but only those which involved scanning.

Step 6 – Relate your MRI findings to the clinical context

Finally, there comes – the last step of reading an MRI scan & which is to relate your MRI findings with the set of different clinical questions! What is the clinical presentation you are trying to relate to the findings?

They are nothing but –

  • What symptoms do you have?
  • Are the symptoms acute or chronic?
  • How long do you suffer from these symptoms?
  • How unwell are you?
  • Did you witness these symptoms in your past & they suddenly popped up all over again?
  • Do the abnormal pathology signals correlate with your symptoms?
  • Does the image pathology show an abnormal sign that has no connection with your symptoms?

And many more!

The question can vary depending on the pathological context, and you have to be very precise about it!

Bottom Line :


The bottom line is you have to keep in mind the fundamentals of reading an MRI if you want to do so without your doctor’s help at home. You have to spend time with image modalities to get familiar with the scan reports & become methodical while reading the MRI imaging.

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Hi, I am Alka Tiwari, Founder & Patient Care Executive at Helping you get the diagnostics scans services like MRI, CT Scan, UltraSound & PET Scan, etc at the best price. At MRIChandigarh's blog, I will be writing to create awareness and to educate you about how and where to get diagnostic scans done in Chandigarh at the best price with best-in-class services.
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