Migraines are severe headaches that come with a whole slew of side effects that interrupt your day, like visual distortion and sensitivity to sound. If you're seeing a doctor or neurologist to make sure you're experiencing migraines and not another serious brain problem, you may have been offered an optional MRI to see what's going on inside your brain. Weigh your options to decide whether you want to go inside the scanner for a better look at your brain.
Benefits of an MRI
First, an MRI will conclusively rule out a few potential but very rare conditions that can cause the same symptoms as common migraines, such as a brain tumor. However, these conditions usually all have secondary symptoms that can be observed without a major scan. Unless your doctor is very concerned and urges you to get an MRI to rule out these problems, you're likely just suffering from migraines. MRIs are very helpful when there are secondary symptoms that are troubling, such as the appearance of pain after exercise or bursting feelings that occur deep within the brain.
Drawbacks of an MRI
Unless your insurance will cover the entire cost, you can expect to spend around $2600 on a basic MRI to scan your brain. Since it's very unlikely the scan will discover anything useful the doctor can use to tailor your treatment, it's hard to justify spending that much money just on a single test. Even if your insurance covers most of the cost, you're likely to spend a few hundred dollars just to find out you don't have a rare brain tumor.
Aside from the cost, MRIs do come with a few health risks as well. First, all exposure to radiation adds up in the long run. Skipping an unnecessary MRI now allows you to get a set of necessary x-rays later without adding as much radiation to your body over the course of your lifetime. Secondly, you can always have a reaction to the dyes used in a contrast scan for detecting brain anomalies. Even if you've never reacted to test dyes in the past, there's always a chance you will suffer from a new allergy or the formula will change for the dye.
In the long run, most migraine patients can skip the MRI they're offered. If your doctor or neurologist does think it's necessary, they'll explain why and give you more information on the potential risks of skipping the scan.
For more information, contact a center like Hudson Valley Imaging.