If you are going to have a MRI just for a checkup, you might get some surprising results. Routine MRI brain scans are likely to result in the detection of unexpected, asymptomatic brain abnormalities, such as brain tumors, aneurysms, and subclinical vascular pathologic changes.
From the abstract of: Incidental Findings on Brain MRI in the General Population
Methods The subjects were 2000 persons (mean age, 63.3 years; range, 45.7 to 96.7) from the population-based Rotterdam Study in whom high-resolution, structural brain MRI (1.5 T) was performed according to a standardized protocol. Two trained reviewers recorded all brain abnormalities, including asymptomatic brain infarcts. The volume of white-matter lesions was quantified in milliliters with the use of automated postprocessing techniques. Two experienced neuroradiologists reviewed all incidental findings. All diagnoses were based on MRI findings, and additional histologic confirmation was not obtained.
Results Asymptomatic brain infarcts were present in 145 persons (7.2%). Among findings other than infarcts, cerebral aneurysms (1.8%) and benign primary tumors (1.6%), mainly meningiomas, were the most frequent. The prevalence of asymptomatic brain infarcts and meningiomas increased with age, as did the volume of white-matter lesions, whereas aneurysms showed no age-related increase in prevalence.
Now what to do with these findings. Is it “knows not, hurts not” or is this a successful advantage of medical technology providing a way to improve health?