Assessing brain and spinal cord damage
CT (computerised tomography) scan - an X-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures that build up into a three-dimensional picture. These can show tumours in the brain, narrowing of the spinal canal, and blood clot or intracranial bleeding in patients with stroke or brain damage from head injury.
The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan offers the most sensitive non-invasive way of forming a detailed image of the brain and the spinal cord.
The MRI scanner is a tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet. It uses a powerful magnetic field instead of radiation so the scans may be carried out on pregnant women.
An MRI scan shows:
- trauma to the brain shown as bleeding or swelling
- brain aneurysms, strokes, tumours of the brain or spinal cord, inflammation of the spinal cord
- demyelination in the CNS, so a powerful tool in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis
- an increase of water content in the cells of brain tissue; MRI is better than CT in detecting small infarcts shown after stroke onset
- the type, position and size of the tumour in the brain or spinal cord - enables doctors to plan treatment
Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test - both sensory and motor nerves are repeatedly stimulated by electrodes…