Advanced Imaging Technology Aids Diagnosis
The BIDMC Advantage
The Brain Aneurysm Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center uses
advanced imaging technology — invasive and noninvasive — to help doctors
make the best diagnosis and to guide treatment. These highly sophisticated
images can pinpoint the location, type, size and other particulars about
the aneurysm to determine the risks and benefits of therapy. Doctors also
use these same tests to zero in on other complex brain and spine vascular
Both CT and MRI scans at BIDMC feature perfusion imaging, an advanced
capability to assess abnormal blood vessel formation, the rate of blood
flow, blood flow abnormalities, changes caused by disease, or changes in
response to treatment. We are leaders in developing and advancing MRI
perfusion imaging, and our neuroradiologists are highly skilled at
interpreting the results.
Because our noninvasive imaging is at such a high level at BIDMC, we often
can spare patients from undergoing
and its associated risks for diagnostic purposes only. We glean the
diagnostic information we need in most cases from CT or MRI scans. We
reserve invasive catheter angiography for patients who are undergoing an
endovascular treatment at the same time, or when noninvasive tests show the
need for specific information only available from the catheter technique.
Imaging Tests Used for Diagnosis
CT Scan (Computed Tomography)
An X-ray image of the head, processed by a computer into two- and
three-dimensional images of the skull and brain. A CT scan can show the
presence of an aneurysm and, if the aneurysm has burst, detects blood that
has leaked into the brain.
Combines a CT scan with contrast dye injected into the bloodstream. CT(A)
is considered noninvasive because it involves only an injection into a
vein. Compared to a standard CT scan, this test produces clear and detailed
images of the brain arteries. The images help doctors detect and analyze
aneurysms and other abnormalities of the blood vessels.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
MRI uses a powerful magnetic field (not radiation as do X-rays and CT
scans) to create brain images. These can be valuable in determining the
effects on the brain of blood vessel abnormalities and the anatomy of
aneurysms and other vascular lesions.
This type of imaging uses MRI to visualize the brain arteries and veins.
Depending on the information needed, this may or may not require an
intravenous injection. MRA is complementary to CT(A) images for displaying
two-, three- and four-dimensional images of blood vessels.
We provide magnetic resonance imaging (and CT as well) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for any patient who needs
We also have sophisticated CT-MRI image fusion technology. This process
allows doctors to collect and combine patient data from two different
studies — CT and MRI — and fuse them together into one three-dimensional
rendering for improved clinical accuracy.
Cerebral or Spinal Angiogram
Also called an arteriogram or catheter angiogram, this invasive test
requires numbing anesthesia and a small incision in the groin. Doctors
insert a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) through arteries from the groin
to the neck. Contrast dye injected into the bloodstream highlights any
abnormalities: an aneurysm, vascular malformation, or an obstruction or
narrowing in a blood vessel in the neck, head or brain. This test can help
diagnose stroke, unruptured and ruptured aneurysms, and other brain and
spine vascular abnormalities. Angiography is the first step in endovascular
treatment of these abnormalities, and is often performed before radiation
or surgical therapy.
Lumbar Puncture/Spinal Fluid Analysis
A test doctors may order when they suspect a ruptured aneurysm. Using a
needle, doctors remove a small amount of fluid from the space between the
spinal cord and its protective covering. Blood in the fluid would indicate
bleeding or brain hemorrhage, and a likely ruptured aneurysm.