Neuroimaging

Neuroimaging at UMass Memorial Medical Center focuses on imaging of the brain. Our specially trained radiologists use imaging technology to diagnose disease and assess brain health as well as to study the brain and how it works.

There are two types of neuroimaging, and both are available at UMass Memorial:

  • Structural - Looks at the physical structure of the brain
  • Functional - Focuses on how the brain functions and uses equipment that can assess brain activity

The Brain Conditions We Help Diagnose

Neuroimaging is a vital tool in diagnosing (or ruling out) a wide variety of conditions affecting the brain and nervous system, including:

  • Stroke (ischemic and hemorrhagic)
  • Brain and spinal tumors
  • Brain aneurysms
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease
  • Seizure disorders such as epilepsy
  • Hemangiomas (benign tumors made up of blood vessels)

Imaging of the Brain at UMass Memorial

Neuroimaging uses different technologies to produce images of the brain:

  • CT (computed tomography) – A type of X-ray that creates cross-sectional “slices” to image the brain’s structure. We have a state-of-the-art dual-source CT scanner that uses two X-ray sources instead of one, doubling the speed of the exam so you receive less radiation, and creating sharper images.
  • Perfusion CT – Used to help diagnose stroke and brain tumors; in addition to revealing the brain’s structure, it also shows how much blood is present in the brain and how quickly it is moving
  • PET (positron emission tomography) – Assesses changes in the function, circulation and metabolism of the brain and measures chemical changes that occur before visible signs of disease are present
  • PET/CT – Combines the functional information from PET with the anatomical information from CT
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • fMRI (functional MRI) – Measures brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow (when an area of the brain is active, blood flow to that region increases); BOLD (blood oxygenation level dependent imaging) is the standard technique used to generate images in fMRI
  • MR diffusion tractgraphy – Traces how brain nerve fibers connect and transfer information; it helps to improve the accuracy of brain surgery planning and advance our understanding of how the brain works
  • SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) – A nuclear medicine test that uses radioisotopes as tracking devices to look at living brain tissue; it examines blood flow and activity patterns in the brain

Radiologists Who Specialize in Neuroimaging

UMass Memorial’s neuroimaging specialists are radiologists with additional training in imaging the brain. They perform thousands of studies each year – a level of experience that no other hospital in Central Massachusetts can offer.