Also known as: brain and nerve test, neuroimaging.
What is a brain scan?
A brain scan is an imaging technique that evaluates brain structure and/or function (by detecting blood flow) of the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT) are the two most common types of brain scans, but others may also be used.
What happens during the procedure?
Most types of brain scan involve the child staying awake and lying on an examination table while a machine is used to scan the brain. A short acting, safe, radioactive material may be injected into a vein and the child may have to wait awhile for it to circulate prior to the procedure.
Is any special preparation needed?
In most cases, no special preparation is needed for the test. Children should remove jewelry or any metal prior to the procedure.
What are the risk factors?
There are few to no risks associated with a brain scan. When a radioactive dye is used, only a very small amount of radiation exposure occurs and the benefits outweigh the risks. Injecting into a vein carries a small risk of pain, bleeding, infection or other problems.
Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP
This page was last updated on: April 06, 2021 10:18 AM
Learn more about
CT Scan (Computed Tomography)
Computed tomography is a medical imaging test that can be used as a diagnostic tool for a wide variety of medical conditions. It involves taking pictures of sections or slices of the body, layer by layer, to get a complete picture of an area of the body.
Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
A brain magnetic resonance imaging test is a medical procedure used to take pictures of the brain. It differs from CT scans in that it does not use radiation.
Ultrasound is a medical imaging test that uses sound waves emanating from a special machine to produce images of the body. When ultrasound is used to generate images of the brain, this is known as a brain ultrasound.