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MRI: how to understand it
  1. Claire Louise MacIver1,2,
  2. Sian Ebden3,
  3. Emma C Tallantyre4,5
  1. 1 Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2 Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  3. 3 Department of Neuroradiology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
  4. 4 Helen Durham Centre for Neuroinflammation, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
  5. 5 Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Claire Louise MacIver, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff CF14 4XW, UK; maciverc{at}


MRI is a staple of the neurologist’s armoury when facing diagnostic challenges. At times, it can reveal or confirm the diagnosis with clarity, at others it brings us no further forwards, or even muddies the water. We rely on the expertise of neuroradiology colleagues to interpret MR images, but the choice of protocol for MR acquisition and its interpretation hinge crucially on the clinical information we provide. Having a degree of understanding about how MRI works, its limitations and pitfalls, can help to optimise what we learn from a scan.

  • MRI
  • neuroradiology
  • physics

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  • Contributors CLM wrote and revised the paper. SE and ET revised the paper.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned. Externally peer reviewed by Fergus Rugg-Gunn, London, UK.

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  • Editors’ commentary
    Geraint N Fuller Phil E M Smith

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