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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to view the brain and spinal cord. MRI is a tool to help physicians diagnose MS and assess disease activity (as needed or recommended by your neurologist).


It is important to follow your schedule for MRI appointments as an MRI can provide details about MS disease activity and progression. It can also help your physician assess if your MS treatment is working or needs to be changed. Generally, the severity of your MS symptoms does not reflect the amount of lesions you have because not all lesions result in noticeable changes in ability.

T1 — Weighted MRI

T1-weighted MRI scans show old lesions. The scans show areas of permanent damage that appear as dark spots. Dark spots are called hypointense lesions. T1-weighted MRI scans show more anatomical detail than gadolinium-enchanced and T2-weighted MRIs.


T2 — Weighted MRI

T2-weighted MRI scans show the total number of lesions, both new and old. These appear as bright spots on the MRI scan and are called hyperintense lesions.


Gadolinium-enhanced MRI

Gadolinium is a dye that can be injected in your veins during an MRI scan. It highlights areas in your brain and spinal cord with lesions that have been active in the past 4 to 6 weeks. Gadolinium allows the doctor to tell which lesions are new or active and which ones are older. This provides information on recent disease activity and whether you may be experiencing a relapse.