Following a car accident or other personal injury in which a person has hit their head, been rendered unconscious, or has experienced an altered state of consciousness, Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( MRI) may be ordered to rule out serious brain injury. Most personal injury lawyers want to understand however whether having a normal MRI means that there is no brain injury? For a quick video review watch our short video about MRI by Neurosurgeon Dr. R.O. Holness.
The MRI is not a very sensitive index for acute brain injury, according to Neurosurgeon Dr. R.O. Holness. Blood in particular does not show up well on an MRI. The MRI is of value later on in the process and by far the most important early imaging test, according to Dr. Holness, is a CT scan ( an X-ray image made using computerized axial tomography)which can be done quickly and without any special adjustment for movement. The MRI however becomes badly degraded with any kind of movement.
For the severely injured patient that is intubated, for example, to put them in an MRI is very difficult and requires a lot of adjustment to the high magnetic field.
Later on when the patient has recovered somewhat from the acute injuries MRI will show subtle changes in the brain which the CT will not show. There are however patients that suffer significant brain trauma symptoms following a motor vehicle accident or fall that have a “normal MRI”.
Whether the injury occurs in Vancouver, Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby, the Lower Mainland or anywhere in British Columbia, only 30% of patients received routine MRI exams within the first 91 days and some patients waited a full year for an MRI exam, according to a a study ordered by the provincial government . Such delays will sometimes result in inappropriate tests or a more invasive procedure been done.
Ultimately it will be the treating physicians that will use the MRI to help determine the appropriate course of treatment. Sometimes further testing can be useful in determining the best course of treatment but the MRI has become an important tool in the kit.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.