Sunday, August 30, 2009 sallyd, Community Member, asks

Q: mri without contrast

Can someone please tell  me if an MRI of the brain without contrast picks up MS? If there are lesions will they be seen without contrast? I am in so much agony and I think I have this disease, how many people end up in wheelchairs over this desease. I'm 40 years old and recently feel like I am having shakes and very dizzy and my entire chest and legs hurt so bad !!! PLease help

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Answers (2)
KJ, Community Member
8/30/09 10:30am



I'm sorry to hear that you're going through so much pain. I haven't been diagnosed yet myself, but I've had an MRI without contrast that was followed by CT scan with contrast. The MRI (no contrast) found lesions in my brain. The CT scan (with enhancing dye) found that one of the lesions was "active". In my case that wasn't enough to diagnose MS, but it gives the doctors a target to zero in on.


I hope this answer helps and I hope someone else answers up with even more information.


Take care,


sallyd, Community Member
8/31/09 1:30am


Thank you for your response. May I ask what your symtoms are and if they gave you any medication? Can you still drive? Do you get vertigo? DO you have any pain?

Thank you Sally

KJ, Community Member
8/31/09 6:06am

Hi Sally,


I originally went to the doctor to have them take a look at my tremors. I've had these for years but they got a lot worse over the winter. Besides tremors I have double vision and see dark and bright spots. I almost completely lost my vision in one eye about three years ago. I have sudden jerks in my legs and feet. I have had some really annoying cognitive problems. This has gotten much better but at it's worst I couldn't remember the names of my co-workers and one time I got confused and didn't know where I was. I had to stop my car and wait a few minutes before it came to me where I was and where I was going. I have had pain in my face (short, sharp stabbing pain that makes me tear up). I have had some vertigo but not too bad. I sometimes feel like I'm moving forward or backward when I'm standing still. Other problems include bladder issues, etc.


I can drive without much problem, even on the worst days. I take medicine for the tremors (Propranolol), for upset stomach (Prilosec) and for depression (Citalopram).

Confused, Community Member
3/ 3/10 1:48pm

Should you discover what you diagnosis is, please post.  I have all the symptoms you do and have been going through test after test to no avail.  I will be eager to hear if you doctors come up with a diagnosis.  My father is encouraging me to go to the Mayo Clinic as that is where he was ultimately diagnoses with MS.  Good luck to you.  I will let you know if I hear anything from my MDs.

KJ, Community Member
3/ 3/10 11:45pm

Thanks, I will. Right now I'm doing very well. My thinking is very clear and the main problems I have are the tremors and some twitches and jerks in my legs and hips. I sometimes see bright flashes and I have had a few odd facial pains, but mostly I seem to be doing much better for the last 6 months or so. In fact I am working overseas in Iraq for the next two or three months and don't have any concerns. Please let me know what you find out and what process you took.

Laa, Community Member
11/26/12 12:57am
How did you fair thru the hot weather their in Iraq. I have ms too with lesions in brain spine but do not take any interferons. I want to go work in bagram and would like to know if you were ok and had any trouble getting a job their in Iraq Reply
KJ, Community Member
12/ 9/12 7:32am

Hi, sorry about the delayed response. You ask some really good questions. 


First off - I haven't yet been diagnosed with MS. The docs are still calling it "white matter brain disease". I'm stable so they haven't done another MRI. I understand that unless there is a major change in symptoms and corresponding change to the white matter (sclerosis), I won't be diagnosed.


In hindsight, my first major symptoms occured in Iraq in 2006. I had a classic case of optic neuritis. We used laser sights on our weapons and I assumed I had been flashed by a laser and just let it heal on its own. After a few weeks of staying out of the sun the symptoms mostly went away.


In general the heat makes things worse. I get pain in my face (tip of nose and upper lip especially) when I'm very hot. The tremors get a little worse too, but the meds (I'm on Propranolol) help. Prior to my 2007 deployment to Iraq we trained in New Mexico and I noticed that my shooting ability really declined in the heat. (I have intention tremor and pistol shooting has really gotten bad.)


As far as getting a job - I don't have a diagnosis so I can pass a physical with no trouble. A formal diagnosis of MS would result in some additional medical screening either by the military or contractor side of the house. That may be disqualifying, but I don't think it necessarily is depending on the job you're deploying for.


I deployed most recently in 2009-2010 as a contractor and had little trouble. I timed the deployment to run from October to May when it wasn't as hot. Afghanistan tends to be a little cooler than Iraq, and Bagram in particular is not too bad. (I was there in 2002-2003.) Parts of Afghanistan are very high altitude and that also seems to exacerbate symptoms somewhat, so keep that in mind.

Laa, Community Member
12/10/12 12:11am
Thank you I needed that information to help me decide the future job searches. Because I really enjoyed bagram and can't wait to return as a contractor. Reply
TNT, Community Member
8/31/09 2:59pm
I have not been diagnosed yet,but I to believe I have MS. My brain MRI was w/out contrast & no lesions showed up. I am scheduled for an MRI of my spine w/ & w/out contrast. That may be an avenue for you to pursue. I read that 20% of MS patients have lesions on the spine when none were present in the brain. I hope this helped. Talk to me anytime it's nice to know you are not alone in your symptoms. I can use the support also. Reply
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By sallyd, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/10/12, First Published: 08/30/09