MRI's : How do you know when you need one?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 5/21/2009 1:06 PM (GMT -6)   
I've seen some banter on here recently about MRI's and thought I'd ask a few general questions.
Yesterday, my boyfriend learned that his mother quite possibly has numerous metastatic brain tumors. She experienced pain in her arm and lost her vision, so she went to the ER. They did an xray of her brain and it revealed several abnormalities which the doctor said were tumors. He was the one who said that they were most likely metastatic tumors - tumors that do no originate in the brain, but rather, form from cancer cells spreading from another part of the body. My boyfriend's mom is a lifelong chain smoker, so the likelihood of her developing lung cancer or some other form of cancer from smoking is very real.
Anyway, I guess I am alarmed because I don't know much about tumors. I did some research online and found some great sources of information, but it all leads back to modern medicine doesn't really know what causes most tumors. It made me wonder if these tumors are not caused by cancer, whether they can be genetic? I only ask because her mother had severe mental illness that I believe got pronounced around the same age. I don't think she went to a doctore for her condition because of the wondering whether she could have had some sort of tumor issue, too.
My boyfriend is super sensitive about discussin the subject right now, so the last thing I want to probe is whehter he should get his head examined at some point to look for abnormalities, too. Just as a prophylactic measure.
Am I worrying too much about this? I mean, how do you know if you need to get an MRI if you aren't having any problems?
It's so tragic :( 

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 419
   Posted 5/21/2009 2:10 PM (GMT -6)   
I think you should wait and see what is going on with her heath. It sounds like she had some risk factors for cancer. If your BF smokes or has similar risk factors, you may be able to gentley suggest he go see his Doc. Now is probably not the right time though, since he is probably in shock over his mom.

Dee-39yrs old wife and mom of 3 boys
UC/PTSD/Panic Disorder/Depression/myofacial pain syndrome 2009-750mg colozal/.750mg clonazepam, 5mg Lexapro-1,000mg canasa/Fioricet/Prilosec OTC-2x daily, Triple Strength Fish Oils/Colonoscopies-4

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 5/21/2009 2:44 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks, you're right. We do need to wait and see the outcome of her visit with the specialist. I'm just reeling from this and scared for her and for him. He used to smoke, but thankfully, quit not too long ago. I am sure this recent turn of events will solidify his decision. Thanks for your thoughts.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 5/21/2009 5:36 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello and I  understand your fears. MRI is more sensitive than CT scanning for confirming the presence of a brain tumor. CT can be very helpful in certain types of tumors, especially ones close to or involving bone. CT is superior to MRI in viewing bone areas. 
Both CT and MRIs have their place in diagnosising a suspect disorder.
Take care,

Kitt, Co-Moderator:
Depression,  & 
*~* *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 5/21/2009 5:46 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks, Kitt. Your input is much appreciated :)
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