Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Diagnostic Tests - Part II (The CT Scan and MRI)

After the seizure, I was asked to do a CT Scan and a MRI of the brain in addition to a full medical and EEG which I spoke of earlier.

Below is a brief explanation of what these diagnostic tests is all about.

"A Computerized Tomography (CAT or CT) scanning, a procedure introduced in the early 1970s, has revolutionized the ability to 'see' the brain. Low-dose X-rays are detected and interpreted by a computer, which then generates a picture "just as if we had cut a slice of the brain."

"A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which is even newer, has increased our ability to look inside the brain, as it were, even more clearly. Unlike CT scanning, MRI does not employ X-rays but rather uses a huge magnet to create an image, which is then analyzed by computer in a fashion similar to the CT. It produces pictures of even greater detail."

You can read about these tests in more detail here (Epilepsy Canada website: Diagnostic Procedures) and view a picture of how the machines look like here (Rochester Medical Center).

Below is my experience of these tests.

For the CT Scan, I was told to remove jewellery just as for any body X-ray. I told them about the screw in my teeth used for my dental work/root treatement and they said that was ok. It was a fairly simple procedure. I merely had to lie down while the scanner (not sure if thats what it should be called) spun around till the procedure was complete. It made me feel like I was in an Star Trek movie or something!

The MRI was a little more uncomfortable. It took about 20-30 minutes. I was asked to lie down on a narrow table which slides into a tunnel-like tube/enclosure and told not to move. It was hard to stay completely still for that amount of time which is why children who have to do this test is sometimes sedated. There was very little space inside the tunnel-like tube/cylindrical chamber and it was dark making me feel like I was being buried alive or something (it would be hard for anyone suffering from claustrophobia to do this test). To overcome my own fear and discomfort, I thought about the people I love, my husband and my children. There were very loud sounds which kept on changing rhythm all around me. Felt like some rock concert going on which I was forced to listen to and couldn't escape from.

Thats about all I can remember about these tests. I hope I haven't frightened anyone with my description of them. The tests are painless, just a little bit uncomfortable for the MRI. The CT Scan was fine.

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