MRI with contrast

I am new to all of this and waiting for my MRI and lumbar puncture but I have been reading about MRI with contrast on this forum.

Can anyone tell me, please, what this means and do I need to ask for this when I go for my MRI?



MRI shows up established lesions, but newer lesions can be too small to be seen without using contrast. The contrast agent used is usually gadolinium. It is injected mid way through the scanning session and the scans done in the first half are repeated again and then the images compared. Gadolinium normally can’t pass through the blood brain barrier and shows up as bright white on a certain type of MRI scan. If everything is normal, the white from the gadolinium will only show up around the outside of the brain. If there is a breach in the blood brain barrier, there will be white areas in the brain - this shows where MS is currently attacking, i.e. “active” lesions: ones that are actively being formed.

It is not perfect. Just like normal MRI, the images are only as good as the machine and its settings can produce. If these are rubbish, you could scan with gadolinium to your heart’s content and you wouldn’t spot anything.

If your symptoms are new, then it is definitely worth using gadolinium. If they are older and/or you have had symptoms before, then it is far less important.

The radiographer will not give you gadolinium if the neuro hasn’t requested it - if you want it, then you will need to speak to the neuro, but please know that, while it helps identify new/active lesions, it is not as essential as some people seem to think.

Karen x

Sorry Karen, I couldn’t find this post until now. Thanks for your reply!