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MRI Changes after Mild Anoxic Brain Injury

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Diana Cooper•updated: 4/29/2009

If you've undergone any brain anoxia and are looking for answers to your questions about MRIs and diagnotic testing, look no further.

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    Anoxia and the Brain

    The MRI is a magnificent tool for analysis in most modern differentials, and as such, it’s used in the diagnosis of many different brain disorders. However, before we get to that, let’s talk about what a mild anoxic brain injury actually involves.

    The term mild anoxic brain injury is a description of brain damage resulting from complete loss of oxygen to the brain for a period of time. Now, if it were up to me, any loss of oxygen to the brain would already be classified as “too much", but the pantheon of doctors that be decided that “mild" is the classification for a period of time of just a few minutes or less.

    Of course, as you may expect, any encounter with a lack of oxygen to the brain is going to result in damage to the brain, and the last thing you want to have to deal with is damaging the control center for the rest of the body – because that’s where things can really go awry.

    Wondering how exactly anoxia can occur? It should come as no surprise that living in modern human society comes with a price to pay in terms of risks. Electrical shock, suffocation, carbon monoxide (from cars), and illegal drug uses round out the list of risk factors that are environmental. On the genetic and personal side there’s always heart attacks and arrhythmia as well as strokes and brain tumors.

    But that’s not why you’re reading this – chances are, you (or someone you know) has been diagnosed with anoxia and you want to know what the changes are in the MRI and how you can be treated for it. To that end, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the less time the brain spent in the anoxic environment, the less the permanent damage to the brain. The bad news is that any treatments with barbiturates and oxygenation will only patch a hole in an already sinking ship – however, all this means is that it could take days, months or years to recover whatever part of the brain has been affected the most.

    As for the MRI, the changes that you’ll see are predominantly in the affected area of the brain that was in the anoxic environment. This way, the doctor can determine what area of the brain was most affected by seeing the level of activity in the sectors of the brain.

    The mild anoxic brain injury prognosis is never a good one – chances are that even if the efforts made to cool and re-oxygenate the brain work well, there’ll still be extensive time spent in physical and neural therapy. Mostly because once the brain loses function, there’s a chance that you can still regain that function, but before that happens, the brain needs to “jog its memory" on how to actually get you to back to normal.

    As usual though, consult with your doctor for individual cases – after all, depending on the amount of time spent in the anoxic environment, there might not even be any discernible evidence. However, for prolonged periods of time, be sure that an MRI has been taken and that you have the right information to make an informed decision.