Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Brain Gets Its Picture Taken, Finally!

Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Timing Diagram for...Image via Wikipedia

Well, I got my MRI of my brain, finally.  When I first went and saw a neurologist/neuropsychiatrist, I asked for one.  No dice.   Double checked with my GP.  No dice.   So, I let it go and figured that at some point I would like to do neurofeedback and that the test administrator would get one then.

Fine.  But in the interim, as we know,  I have had a lot of sensory issues related to neurology.  So I saw an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist.  He went over the balance and audiology tests that came out normal... and then said, "Gee, you have a lot of neurological issues (no sh-t!) and have you ever had an MRI?  I said, No but I would like one. So he ordered one.  Being a well-known otolaryngologist, I am sure he is a preferred doctor with the insurance company and I had no problems with precertification.

 I did the MRI at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and they took scads of pictures of my brain.  Honestly, the machine sounds like a jack hammer.  You would think  that with all the advances in technology, they could have figured out how to sound proof the machine.  Also, I had an MRI done earlier of my neck at St. Mary's Hospital and they gave me headphones with my choice of music.  As I had a good bunch of time to kill and nowhere to go since I was supposed to lay perfectly still, I decided to say the Rosary--sans beads, natch. (I knew my good Catholic training would come in handy at some point in my life.  I just never figured out that it would be in an MRI machine!).   I whipped through 3 or 4 decades of Hail Mary's and then the test came to an end.

Modern high field clinical MRI scanner. (3T Ac...

I got a copy of the MRI on a CD as I walked out.  Put the CD on the computer and didn't see anything too remarkable to my untrained eye.  Poked around at the brain for a while.  Thought that it was kinda cool and decided to wait for my report.

Two weeks later, I got my report and for the most part, there is nothing terribly remarkable:

"Normal examination of the brain.  There is relatively low signal intensity of the clival marrow".

What the heck  is the clival marrow?  The clival  is part of the back of the brain near the brain stem.  The report indicates that it could be associated with some underlying hematological disorder or the aftermath of chemotherapy.  Well, I've never had chemotherapy.

The radiologist also noted that there is no evidence of Chiari malformation, i.e., an  agenesis of the corpus callosum.  This is a  congenital abnormality (a birth defect) in which there is partial or complete absence (agenesis) of the corpus callosum, the area of the brain which connects the two cerebral hemispheres (the two halves of the brain).  It is very interesting because agenesis has been posed as  one of the probable causes of Non Verbal Learning Disorder. 

There's nothing readily accessible to the layperson.  Tried a quick scan of pubmed to see if I can glean anything out of it.  Can't see anything.

Well, off to a specialist to make sense out of this.  No sense in me thinking about it too much.  Problems with the clivus bone marrow range anywhere from dementia severity in HIV patients (not me), to anomalies with anorexics, or a brain cyst, lesion or tumor (benign lesions of the clivus are meningioma and chordoma; in the malignant group there are chondrosarcoma, plasmacytoma and metastases.)

'Or, it could be anemia.  Here's an interesting story of how it can be difficult to make a diagnosis.

At any rate, its a subject better left for bigger minds than mine.

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