Does it matter WHEN you get an MRI?


I am not sure if I have MS or some other neurological disorder or something else.

After visiting an ENT with what I thought was de-compensation from an old vestibular issue, he noticed I actually have very bad disequilibrium and am uncoordinated. I failed the finger-to-nose test, Rombergs, and the one where you flip your hands over.

He suspects something is wrong with my cerebellum. I also have 24/7 dizziness and dropping things, walking into things all the time. Keep getting my words mixed up. Feel soo fatigued I can barely work.

So, he has organised an appointment for me at neurology. It’s in two months time. I’m guessing some kind of MRI will be appropriate.

If I do have something ‘episodic’, like MS can be, will it show up on an MRI at any time, or only when I’m having symptoms? I do have the option to go private and get everything done quicker (but it would mean spending all my savings). What if my symptoms improve between now and then? Will anything be detected?

I haven’t been ‘right’ since an episode of vertigo 2 yrs ago that was put down to Labyrinthitis, but I’ve been ill, and getting iller, for 4 months now. The last week has been pretty horrific.

Many thanks for any advice or help anyone can offer.

K-L x

Hi K-L,

Shouldn’t be that crucial when you have it, no. MS lesions are a kind of scar, and, like other scars, can fade eventually, to the point of being invisible.

But I don’t think that would happen in just a couple of months, especially if you have pronounced symptoms at the moment. IF they’re caused by MS brain lesions, I wouldn’t expect the latter to completely heal and disappear in just two months, so I’m pretty confident there would still be evidence, even if symptoms have improved by then.

They can potentially see lesions from years ago. When mine were first spotted, one of the questions I asked was: “How do we know they haven’t ‘always’ been there?” Answer: “We don’t!” One thing they can do, if lesions are spotted, is scan again with a thing called contrast (substance injected into a vein) - this has the effect of distinguishing between active and historic lesions, because it highlights the active ones.

Very occasionally, consultants ask for a scan with contrast right from the word go, but as it’s very expensive, it’s more usual to ask for an ordinary scan first, and IF it shows any lesions, only then to do another scan with contrast, to see how many are active. It still can’t tell the age of the inactive ones.

I hope you get some answers soon, but please don’t worry about “disappearing evidence” - you don’t have to catch it literally in the act.



Thank you so much Tina - I really appreciate your information and advice. That was exactly what I need. Many thanks!

K-L x

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