Traumatic Brain Injury MRI (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) MRI in Vancouver

Advanced MRI technology to detect and diagnose brain injuries due to physical trauma

Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, is typically caused by a sudden impact, internal damage, or a loss of oxygen to the brain. Although it’s not always visible, TBI can cause long-lasting physical, emotional, intellectual and social changes for people who experience head trauma. Long-term effects can also place an enormous emotional and financial burden on family members, due to the high costs of care and potentially life-long support needs.

At False Creek Healthcare, we use the most advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system available in Canada for clinical use. Our Vancouver facility has the technology and expertise to distinguish true brain injuries and damage from migraine headaches, bodily pain, medications, depression, and stress-based dysfunction. TBI causes a wide variety of symptoms, depending on the severity of the trauma – from headaches, dizziness, nausea, light sensitivity and fatigue for mild injuries, through to seizures, loss of coordination, and profound confusion for moderate-to-severe injuries. That’s why it’s essential to seek prompt attention and an accurate diagnosis after a blow or other traumatic injury to the head.

MRI of micro-bleed from brain injuryBrain MRIMRI of Brain

Symptoms of Brain Injury:

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired memory
  • Faulty judgement
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Diminished libido
  • Difficulty switching between multiple tasks
  • Slowed thinking

Traumatic Brain Injury MRI benefits

Our Vancouver clinic employs state-of-the-art MRI protocols, designed by Dr. Mark Haacke, to visualize and categorize the location, nature, and degree of damage to the central nervous system. The MRI provides more detail than a conventional CT scan and can better detect the remnants of old, hemorrhaged blood, producing high-resolution structural information for diagnosing brain damage. The 3T MRI offered at False Creek Healthcare is also more likely to detect smaller hemorrhages, compared to the standard 1.5T MRI or CT scan. With detailed MRI images doctors can more confidently classify TBI, and is the first step in making an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for a patient’s evolving condition.

This MRI technique:

  • Probes for changes in brain architecture & homeostasis
  • Looks for the presence of blood, edema and mass effects
  • Detects the most common injury types and patterns
  • Provides the first step toward an accurate diagnosis
  • Offers extremely detailed, precise images
  • Uses electromagnetism and radio waves, not radiation

Is a brain MRI safe?

MRI is a safe and effective diagnostic procedure. Unlike an x-ray, it does not use ionizing radiation. You can undergo many MRI examinations without any cumulative effects.

MRI is an advanced diagnostic technology that can provide detailed images of the brain. An MRI scan can detect abnormalities that CT scans, ultrasound, and x-rays cannot. Our modern Vancouver facility is home to the first and only GE 3.0 Tesla MRI system in clinical use across Canada. Developed for the most advanced clinical applications, the 3.0T MRI produces faster images with unprecedented detail.

The 3.0T Signa EXCITE HDxt MRI system was designed with your safety and comfort in mind. Many older MRI systems use larger coils that make the unit feel confining, but the GE 3.0T MRI features more compact and advanced coils, which promote a more comfortable patient experience.

Our radiologists and technologist employ these advanced methods to diagnose mild to severe cases of traumatic brain injuries:

Susceptibility Weighted Imaging (SWI)

A method used to detect and differentiate micro-bleeds, hemorrhage, small iron/calcium deposits.

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)

A method used to detect damage to the nervous system.

eDWI Diffusion Weighted imaging

A higher sensitivity and a faster scanning time than regular DWI for enhanced scanning of the Brain.


Measures chemical levels in the brain. A decrease in levels of certain chemicals indicates damage to the brain.

What to expect during an MRI

Before we schedule the screening, please advise your patient care coordinator if you:

  • Have a cardiac pacemaker, cerebral aneurysm clips, metallic implants, or metal fragments in your eyes – MRI uses a powerful magnetic field, so the system is highly sensitive to metal.
  • Have a contrast material allergy – although rare, the contrast material used in some MRI scans can cause an allergic reaction.

During your appointment, one of our expert technologists will escort you into the MRI scanning room, which contains a table and a large, circular device called a gantry. Your technologist will have you lie down comfortably on the padded table. You will be asked to stay very still and briefly hold your breath during the scan, in order to produce a clear diagnostic image.

Depending on the specific exam, a contrast solution may be administered by IV to improve the accuracy of the scan. During the scan, you might hear a humming or buzzing noise. This sound can be quite loud, but you won’t experience any other unusual sensations, with the exception of some slight table movement while the images are being taken. The technologist will monitor you through a window during the entire exam and can communicate with you by intercom.

After your MRI scan

Our radiologists will carefully analyze your MRI images and provide a report to your physician. Once he or she has received the report, your physician can discuss the results with you. Your technologist will also give you a CD or USB containing the scanned images when you leave our clinic.

Why choose to have an MRI scan at False Creek Healthcare?

In addition to our world-class technology, each and every one of our physicians, technologists and radiologists has years of experience and a commitment to excellence. Our modern facility and patient-centered philosophy will ensure you have a positive experience at every turn. Let us help you achieve optimal health and wellness in a professional, clinical setting.

Did you know?

Patients can bring in their own iPod, MP3 players or CDs, so they can listen to their own music during their MRI scan.

Next Steps

If you’re ready to explore your diagnostic needs with our board-certified radiologists, experienced MRI technologists and patient care coordinators, request an appointment today.

Traumatic Brain Injury FAQ

Q: Is a concussion a traumatic brain injury?
A: Yes, the most common and least serious type of traumatic brain injury is called a concussion. However, concussions can range in severity. Most concussions are temporary with mild symptoms that go away in hours or days but more severe concussions can have long lasting effects. In particular, athletes or others who have sustained a severe concussion or multiple concussions can encounter especially severe symptoms that can last for months or years.

Q: Is it possible to see the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury 2 to 3 years after the accident?
A: Yes, the characteristic iron content will still be present in the brain even after 5 years. Only in rare cases will the iron be reabsorbed by your body.

Q: Are micro bleeds unique to Traumatic Brain Injury? Can something else, for example excessive drinking cause micro-bleeds?
A: Multiple micro-bleeds are generally not found in a healthy brain. It is possible to have 1 or 2 micro-bleeds from a minor accident, but any more, especially in the location where the accident occurred is indicative of TBI.

Traumatic Brain Injury MRI (TBI) was last modified: September 21st, 2015 by Centric Health
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