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Doctor Bruce
Doctor Bruce, Doctor (MD)
Category: Health
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Experience:  25 years experience: Board Certified in Internal Medicine, published author & health educator.
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MRI result indicated scattered small foci of T2

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MRI result indicated scattered small foci of T2 hyperintensity in the cubcortical white matter reflect minimal small vessel ischemic disease. What does this mean please ? Thank you - Kathleen

An MRI is very sensitive. While that is a good thing, it can also find lots of things that may mean "nothing." The only way to know if findings like this has any practical meaning is by correlating them with symptoms, or findings on physical exam. So, the first thing is that these findings may not mean anything "bad" is going on.

That being said, let me explain what the findings mean. The brain has layers of different cells. Think of an orange. The thick skin is the "cortex." This layer in the brain is the "gray matter." Now think of the orange pulp below the skin... that's below (sub) the cortex, or "subcortical." So, this report says that in the white matter (nervous tissue) that is below the cortex, there are basically little holes that are most like due to decrease in blood flow in the very small vessels that feed the brain. "ischemic disease" means "not enough blood flow."

It is important to note the word "minimal."   This means that there is some evidence that narrowing of small vessels has led to some changes in the brain. This is a common finding as people get into their 70s and 80s, and can even be found in the 60s.

Again, whether it means anything practically will depend on your medical condition, your risk for heart and stroke, the medications you take, etc.

I would hope that you would be able to discuss this in more detail with whatever physician ordered the MRI.

Hope that helps.
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