Things You'll Need
"Normal" MRIs for reference
How to read an MRI
Identify the plane of the scan. MRIs are typically looked at in one of three planes:cross section (the horizontal plane), sagittal (a profile view) or coronal (a vertical view from the front).
Identify the location of the image. This information will usually be given in the notes at the top of the MRI, and will either be in terms of depth, or the parts of the body you can see in the image.
Identify and contrast special dyes. For some MRIs, special dyes are used to label certain structures, such as the heart or liver. These dyes will make the tissues appear as an especially strong image, and will also be listed in the notes at the top of the
Compare your MRI with a normal MRI. Many medical textbooks will have examples of "normal" MRIs, but I have also included some in the resources section. Look for areas in your MRI that are noticeably different---bright bulges can indicate bleeding or inflammation, and areas that are noticeably darker than that of the "normal" MRI may indicate a loss of fluid in an area. Pay special attention to the borders of organs and tissues, as these are typically where you can clearly see a problem.
Most MRIs take multiple images of different areas at slightly different depths, which will allow you to get a better view of an organ or tissue. Look for areas that are consistently different than the "normal" MRI on multiple scans, as this is more likely to indicate an actual problem.