MRI Scan for Multiple Sclerosis

When I was diagnosed with MS in 1995, one of the means by which the diagnoses was confirmed was the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI has been shown to be effective in detecting MS plaques so the MRI imaging is included in diagnostic criteria.

As I’ve told you before, when I was diagnosed with MS, I didn’t believe it. Even with my first MRI results showing plaques, I was still in denial. I never even looked online to read the available information about MS. Now I tell others to look at places like Web where we can read the information that we need.

I didn’t understand that the MRI is simply a test that takes very clear pictures of the human body (for MS the Central Nervous System) without the use of X-rays. It uses a large magnet, radio waves and a computer to produce these images.

I didn’t even know why I needed to get an MRI.

Web MD teaches that the MRI is considered the best test to help diagnose MS. Even though 5% of people with MS don’t show ‘white spots’ or plaques on the central nervous system (CNS) according to the MRI results so a “negative” scan does not completely rule out MS. In addition, there are other situations that may look like MS on a MRI.

I was waiting for symptoms to prove I had MS and I didn’t know that symptoms are just the tip of the iceberg. There was activity going on in my brain; my immune system was attacking my CNS for five years before the symptoms were undeniable. It was then that I returned to the neurologist for medication.

I would have been able to have regular MRI reports to see if there was activity or what they call “clinically silent MS plaques” being formed.

MRI can often detect damaged areas in the brain or spinal cord that would be missed by other imaging techniques such as CAT scans.

Is the MRI Exam Safe?

Yes. The MRI exam is no threat to the average person. There are some safety guidelines to be followed.

At my appointment, I had to sign a consent form containing the conditions that may make having a MRI a bad idea.

I thank WebMd for for reminding me what was on the list:
• Cerebral aneurysm clip (metal clip on a blood vessel in the brain)
• Heart pacemaker
• Pregnancy
• Metal in the eye or eye socket
• Implanted insulin pump (for treatment of diabetes), narcotics pump (for pain medication), or implanted nerve stimulators (“TENS”) for back pain
• Implanted spine stabilization rods
• Cochlear (ear) implant for hearing impairment
• Weigh more than 300 pounds
• Severe lung disease (such as tracheomalacia or bronchopulmonary dysplasia)
• Gastroesophageal reflux (a common disease that causes heartburn)
• Not able to lie on back for 30 to 60 minutes
• Claustrophobia (fear of closed or narrow spaces)

Many people who have had heart surgery and people with the following medical devices can be safely examined with MRI:
• Artificial joints
• Brain shunt tubes for hydrocephalus
• Staples
• Disconnected medication pumps
• Many cardiac valve replacements (check with your doctor)
• Vena cava filters

Because I didn’t have any of these concerns, I could obtain the MRI scan without complications.

No one knows, but I wonder if I would have had yearly MRIs to prove the activity of the MS if I would have gotten on the pharmaceuticals earlier and avoided the damage that was done.

Why is it that MS is no longer active in my CNS? Is it the MS drugs that are keeping it in remission or is it my healthy living? I don’t know but I’m not going to give up any of it! I feel great and I want to keep it this way!

Now on to learning about Mylien Repair, I want to get back all that I lost, will it be possible?!

Have you had an MRI? Tell me about your experiences in the comments below.


About our Co-Founder: With a bachelors in Social Work, Linda is 53 years old, happily married with eight children and 17 grandchildren. Diagnosed with MS in 1995 and now having accepted and truly embraced her new reality, Linda has created She is dedicated to proving that joy can be chosen while living with Multiple Sclerosis. Linda specializes in helping others, especially those with MS attain the lifestyle, independence and happiness amid living with MS.


  1. I’ve had two MRI scans now, one to diagnose my MS in late February, and another in the middle of this year to see what was happening since I’d begun medication with Avonex.
    I found the whole thing interesting, and of course LOUD. That’s the most important thing to know about this procedure – it it very loud!
    Keeping still for that long can be a trial too. I remember for the one I had this year, I was troubled with a tickly cough. It was hard work to stifle my cough for the time the scan took – I think it was around an hour.
    I did a good job though, and they got a scan that wasn’t impacted by my coughing. The result was a good one too, showing signs of myelin repair. I hope my body’s still busy fixing the bits it’s damaged!

    • Carolyn,
      Thanks for talking about both the sound and the need for stillness! I was given ear plugs so the sound was muted, but I can imagine how loud it would have been without them!
      And the stillness! Man I can only imagine with a cough!!! Once I had an itch and I couldn’t stop my self from scratching it! He had to take that picture over again and it takes a long time!!!

  2. Way to go, Linda! This is such exciting news for you, my friend. Your friendship and support mean so much;)

  3. Yahoo! always great to hear good news! Good question, people are always asking me, why did I start walking again??

  4. I just wish the public hospitals here in our area had an MRI scan. A lot can’t afford it in private hospitals. Even if they would like to so they can determine if they have the risk of having MS, they just can’t. Sad, but true.

    • Candice,
      As much as we complain about our medical system here in the US, I’m grateful for everything I have because of it. Now as a country we need to make some radical changes so we don’t need it so desperately!

  5. It is great to have a diagnosis to be able to get on with how we can get treated. as for myself the mri has not detected any lesions. I guess i am the 5% that go undetected. I have not given up hope.

    • Kathleen,
      I was told yesterday that a research hospital (the name will come to me) found that MS activity is happening even when the MRI doesn’t show any scars – (Oh Swedish Medical in Seattle, I knew I’d remember) your proof. I’m going to research and post about that right after I learn more and post about the Myelin Repair Foundation!

      That must be awful living with this disease and not having a diagnosis! What do the doctors do? Do you have to wait until more damage is done before you can get on any MS drugs? Are you still feeling the pain of the Trigeminal Neuro or what ever it’s called?

  6. Now I am ready to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming again to read other news.

  7. Aw, this was an exceptionally nice post. Taking the time and
    actual effort to make a superb article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.

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