MRI uses powerful magnets, radio waves and computers to image inside the body.  Imagine a loaf of bread with one raisin (HH) in the middle. Now take a (virtual) bread knife and slice the bread with the intention of slicing right through a hypothalamic hamartoma, which is sometimes as small as the raisin.  Not an easy task.  During an MRI, usually several types of pictures are taken, in order to see different attributes of the brain tissue.  For each type of picture, which is called an MRI sequence, MRI controls are altered to different preset settings.  The MRI staff and technologists often use the following protocol sequence parameters to get the best pictures of the hypothalamic hamartoma.

The exam is performed while laying on a table that slides into a long tube.  A coil (looks like a cage) will be placed over the head.  Ear protection is provided because the MRI will make loud noises during the scanning process.  Movement of any kind can decrease the quality of the imaging.  If the patient is unable to hold still, anesthesia can be used.  Contrast (injectable agent) can be used to help better visualize structures in the brain but the HH will not enhance or highlight with the use of contrast. If an HH is very small, it can be easily missed by an individual not experienced in locating HH lesions.  MRI does not use radiation.

Download the approved HH MRI Protocol.