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Brain MRIs Find Hidden Neurological Problems
Date:10/31/2007

Blocked blood vessels most common discovery, researchers report

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Screening MRIs can uncover potential trouble in the brain, a new study suggests.

As a matter of fact, that might happen more than 10 percent of the time, according to Dutch researchers who found that 7.2 percent of those who received MRIs had blocked blood vessels in their brains, 1.8 percent had cerebral aneurysms, and 1.6 had benign brain tumors.

"Our study shows that incidental findings are much more frequent than was thought previously," said study co-author Dr. Aad van der Lugt, an associate professor of radiology at Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

The findings are published in the Nov. 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers began this study, because MRI and other imaging scans are being used more frequently in research studies and as diagnostic aids in clinical practice. Because of this increasing use, van der Lugt and his colleagues felt it was important to know how often asymptomatic disorders might show up.

To assess the rate of incidental findings, the researchers culled data from the Rotterdam Study and included information from 2,000 study volunteers between the ages of 46 and 97, with an average age of 63 years. All had undergone a screening MRI and, prior to the MRI, had no known brain abnormalities.

One hundred and forty-five of the study participants -- 7.2 percent -- were found to have a brain infarct, which means the blood supply to a specific part of the brain is blocked. Thirty-five people -- 1.8 percent -- were found to have an aneurysm in the brain. An aneurysm is a defect in the blood vessel wall that can rupture and cause a potentially fatal hemorrhage.

Thirty-one people -- 1.6 percent -- were found to have benign brain tumors, mostly meningiomas. Only one person was found to have a
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