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    What does an MRI of the Orbits (Eyes) show?

    Posted by Ravi Sohal on Thu, Feb 18, 2010

    mri eye globe orbitMRI scans are frequently used to evaluate the internal structures of the brain and nearby structures. Orbit MRIs are used to discover tumors, infection and chronic diseases that affect the structures in and around the orbits.

    Orbit MRIs are nearly always done as a with and without contrast exam. That is, first the MRI is done without the dye injection and then images are taken after the dye has been administered by IV. Below are a few common conditions that Orbit MRIs can evaluate.

    Tumor - Tumors can be primary (from the eye) or secondary (from other sites, eg melanoma). These typically present with eye pain, double vision, or are picked up during an eye exam.

    Infection - Orbit infections present with eye pain, double vision, watery eyes and swelling of the tissues around the eyes. Some inflammatory conditions affect the eye itself whereas others may affect the lacrimal gland (makes tears) or the fat that surrounds the eyeball. Orbit MRIs are also very good at evaluating the nearby bones for infection (called osteomyelitis).

    Optic Neuropathy - The optic nerve carries light signals from the retina (back of the eye) to the brain. Think of it as a cable filled with signals. If this is damaged or deteriorates, an Orbit MRI can pick up changes to the nerve. Damage to the optic nerve can appear as either thickening or thinning of the nerve.

    Other conditions - Orbit MRIs can pick up papilledema (swelling head of the optic nerve), enlarged eye muscles (seen in thryoid conditions), infection or tumors of the lacrimal gland and enlargement of vessels that supply and drain the eye area.

    An MRI of the Orbits will also partially evaluate:


    An Orbit MRI will include parts of the sinuses. Though not used to primarily look for sinus disease, an MRI can see thickening of the sinus tissue (mucosa) or fluid in the sinuses.


    Parts of the skull are included in an Orbit MRI and can detect bone tumors, infection and large fractures. It can also detect bleeds in the space between the skull and brain (aka epidural and subdural bleeds).

    Brain matter

    The white and gray matter of the brain are also partially seen. MRI can detect tumors, infection, bleeds, stroke and congenital defects. The pituitary gland and upper brainstem are also evaluated.

    Your Orbit MRI Scan

    An Orbit MRI generally takes about 30-45 minutes or so to complete. If you are going for one, wear loose comfortable clothing and remember to remove all metal (jewelry, phones, rings, etc) before going into the MRI scan room. This test is nearly always done with IV MRI contrast.

    If you're insured, you may need to have your test authorized (approved) by your insurance company first. If you're uninsured and need to look up prices and buy an MRI scan of the orbit, you can use our website to look up MRI scan costs and then purchase with your credit card.

    Have you had an Orbit MRI scan? What was it like? Please leave your comments below.



    Ihad an MRI with Orbits With and without contrast on Jan. 15. Four hours after the MRI I had pounding, overwhelming headaches with aching and sore parts of the cranium. These lasted about 6 hrs. The next day the headaches and soreness continued on a less severe basis. I had a mild headache in my eyes for two weeks.  
    The technician said MRI's cannot cause headaches but this one with the orbits did. What does it mean?

    posted @ Friday, March 12, 2010 11:21 AM by jOYCE

    everyone has different issues, but according to the massive majority of people, i think your response was all in your head...sorry. hope it is resolved by now...sometimes i think people freak out from the test, and it creates havoc later, especially the gadolinium. the mri, for the first time can be intimidating too, but it really doesnt have after effects..anything is possible though.

    posted @ Thursday, July 29, 2010 5:08 PM by anonymous


    posted @ Thursday, July 29, 2010 5:10 PM by anonymous

    I just had an MRI of the brain and an MRI of the orbits (eyes). Both were totally painless. The machine makes all sorts of weird noises while it's scanning, but the noise didn't produce any headaches (the noises are so loud they have you wear earplugs). Thankfully the results were normal (I was having weird eye problems and intense headaches). The tests ruled out any life threatening problems.

    posted @ Tuesday, August 24, 2010 5:29 PM by Relieved

    I have to have one of these this week. I'm not scared of the test, but I'm scared of what they may find. MRI scans of the brain don't hurt. I have had them in the past. I have also had the scans with contrast, and again, no pain and no after affects.

    posted @ Sunday, November 21, 2010 1:15 PM by Janine

    @ Janine. The whole idea of the exam can be overwhelming. Try not to let it freak you out. Your results might be fine. Wish you the best.

    posted @ Monday, November 22, 2010 7:44 AM by Pamela

    Had orbit x-ray as precaution to determine the existence of metal flakes/filings in eyes. Then, had mri of shoulder lasting 45 mins. Ever since (5-7 days) have had a nagging headache on top of head on right side. Also accompanying this pain is some pain in the right eye region. I have to attribute these symptoms to the x-ray/mri.

    posted @ Friday, January 14, 2011 8:07 PM by Geo

    You could have an allergic reaction to the injection. Some people are sensitive to the contrast dye. That would explain the headache. Hope you are feeling better now. Next time you ever need to have another MRI done with contrast just inform the tech that you are sensitive to it and afterwords take some Tylenol or Motrin - That should help you a lot. Also for anyone who has never had an MRI done, they are not painful, the only problem most people have is laying so still for a long period of time.

    posted @ Thursday, May 19, 2011 8:12 AM by Karen


    posted @ Thursday, June 30, 2011 4:25 PM by NANCY

    Had an eye orbit mri today. Painless. Have a lump in right eye orbit. Just have to wait to see specialist to find out results. Have the film, but of course cannot read it. Took almost an hour and I had contrast with no side effects. Lots of noise ( had ear plugs) reminded me of a combination of laser tag and the daleks from Dr Who on some occasions:-) The cost was almost $600aud. not prohibitive, but lets hope I don't need any more.

    posted @ Wednesday, July 06, 2011 1:33 AM by Karen P

    I had an mri orbital today. i dont know the results yet. at the begenning i asked the tecnician to let me out and i said, I do not want, then i entered again. the noise looks as if someone trys to tease you, i read quran for about 6 minutes then I slept, can you beleive it???? 
    they awaked me ( disturbed me ) for the injection they i rested again, thank for the sceintists for this teqnique.

    posted @ Tuesday, August 02, 2011 4:41 PM by fayrooz agha

    I had an MRI to check the size of the meningioma in my brain. That evening I had a call to attend another MRI for orbits??? The procedure did not give me any negative effect but the as I described it to the TECH,it sounds 
    like a giant woodpecker alternating with a malfunction inboard motor fuelled by the cheapest unprocessed crude oil:) She said, gee! you had a lot of time thinking this. I said yes it got rid of the noise because I was half asleep x

    posted @ Thursday, June 21, 2012 2:54 AM by Verne

    I am having an MRI of the orbits this week on Saturday, I am not scared of the test itself but what the results might be. I've been having severe headaches and eye pain. Couple o months ago the vision in my right eye changed. I started seeing blurry and lots of headaches. So that's why the doc is sending me to have one done. I've never heard that MRI hurt but I am concerned after.

    posted @ Monday, August 06, 2012 12:35 PM by Silvia

    I Have a orbital MRI this friday, iam so nervous not because of the testing but of the results! I have a bulging right eye and my head feels like there is some pressure. i hope everything goes well! eh!

    posted @ Wednesday, August 29, 2012 4:15 PM by Prasha

    Hi Prasha. Life is crappy at times. Hope things work out for the best. Hang in there.

    posted @ Friday, August 31, 2012 8:30 PM by Pamela

    Thanks for the response Pamela! you are right that life is crappy at times.. everyone has probs..but we must have positive attitude !

    posted @ Saturday, September 01, 2012 5:43 PM by Prasha

    Had an MRI of the brain on the 12th with contrast and another one of the orbits today with contrast and both went extremely well just waiting for results

    posted @ Monday, September 24, 2012 7:52 PM by Candice

    Good luck, Candice. Hope things go well.

    posted @ Tuesday, September 25, 2012 6:20 PM by Pamela

    I had an orbital gallium scan in 2004 to rule in rule out Graves opthomology ( I was positive ) . no side effects. However I later got unrelated leaky gut and gastritis confirmed via tests. Now I believe I have leaky brain since I never dealt with leaky gut. There are contraast enhanced perfusion ( gadolinium ) and diffusion MRIs to test for blood brain barrier. But patients who did have these contrast tests who were diagnosed with leaky brain ( blood brain barrier ) did also have headaches after the contrast test.

    posted @ Saturday, October 13, 2012 8:26 PM by jenns

    I had a Brain MRI and an Orbits MRI 5 months ago because I have non small cell carcinoma (lung cancer) which had spread into my right eye. The eye was treated with radiation and I have been having chemotherapy since then for the lung and other areas. Yesterday I had a second Brain MRI and Orbits MRI as well as a PET Scan. If you are worried about these MRI's at all, I suggest you take Xanax about 30 minutes prior to the scans. Your doctor will gladly prescribe this for you if you feel apprehensive about the scans. I have a very bad case of claustrophobia, so I can't stand going into the MRI tube, but the Xanax makes everything okay. I sleep through most of the procedure, or at least am not bothered by it. I have never felt any headaches or other side effects from these tests.

    posted @ Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:43 AM by Jeff

    i had an mri today i was dreading it but it was fine i fell asleep found it quite relaxing

    posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:37 AM by lisa

    @ Lisa: Excellent.

    posted @ Thursday, December 20, 2012 4:54 PM by Pamela

    Had an MRI scan today due to a mass near the orbit,what could be the result?

    posted @ Saturday, May 04, 2013 2:41 PM by Sophy

    daughter todsy had mir scan from an  
    eye test that come back certinly not right  
    . very worried shes only 17 yrs old xxxx

    posted @ Thursday, June 13, 2013 7:47 PM by elaine cook

    I have swollen around my eyes for 5 month I sow 5 doctors all said I only have allergy at last the last doc suspect I have thyroid eye d I am going for mri tomorrow hopefully icon find good result good luck for everybody

    posted @ Wednesday, October 02, 2013 3:38 PM by sam

    I had orbital mri at the beginning I asked to be out of the tube and then accept it after I notice its open from both sides anyway it is very easy no problem at all exept upset stomach aafter the dye injection

    posted @ Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:51 AM by samy

    I'm in the same boat as many here! After months of eye pain/issues and several Dr.'s as well as several 100's of dollars in Dr.'s visits. I'm disappointed that after their original posts no one has come back to share the results! I'll be sure to do so... :)

    posted @ Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:25 PM by Nikki

    I have just received a scan date for a MRI Head,and Orbit,worried sick as don't know if I can face going in the scanner as scared of being in a tunnel,a eye test done then referred to specialist,who decided I needed a MRI,

    posted @ Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:53 AM by Julia

    Im having right eye stay dialated for a month now and severe headaches vomiting double vision and so dizzy I cannot stand it. Help....

    posted @ Friday, February 21, 2014 9:07 AM by wigging out

    Have an MRI of brain/orbits on right side. Suspicion of papilledema with visual field defect. Am worried to know what they would find is causing this. Anyone had the same experience?

    posted @ Monday, February 24, 2014 2:25 PM by SeaMom

    Can a person wear a eye mask during 
    an orbital MRI? I have been able to 
    wear one for a brain MRI before and it 
    really helped.

    posted @ Wednesday, April 16, 2014 7:35 PM by Marise Ann

    i have an MRI of right eye Orbit exam the Dr's report is DERMOID/EPIDERMOID pls suggest what i will do the treatment.

    posted @ Saturday, July 12, 2014 5:46 AM by Jai Prakash gupta

    Had an MRI of my brain and orbit on July 10, 2014. For over a year I have been having tearing in my right eye. I also have MS. Was diagnosed with MS over 14 years ago. Just got a call from my Neurologist today saying she wants to set up an appointment in two weeks to go over the results. I'm praying that it is good news. Was thinking if it was something severe my appt would have been setup right away.

    posted @ Monday, July 14, 2014 8:50 AM by Gloria

    I had my head-eye socket MRI yesterday. No negative reaction to the contrast. The tech had to try three times to start an IV. 
    He was not gentle. Once they place 
    the MRI mask on you and place you in the machine things are quite close/tight. If you do not like tight closed in spaces this test will be a challenge. Other than all those needle sticks to start the IV everything went just fine.

    posted @ Wednesday, July 23, 2014 5:15 PM by David Brown

    I have had MRI 'a for over 10 years on my brain with orbits as well. Found a meningioma behind right eye. Sounds of machine have been described so well😊 Loud but not deafening - I did find for me to keep my eyes closed during process was helpful but it goes pretty fast. For those fearing their outcomes, just know whatever you are told, ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS- WRITE DOWN THE ANSWERS AND DON'T THINK ANYTHING IS TOO SILLY. Many good surgeons to deal with these rumors - investigate and ask others for referrals. Especially an ophthalmologist if it involves your sight. I was blest in Philadelphia with excellent drs. Now in TX monitored every year with MRI And Orbits. Good luck to you.

    posted @ Thursday, October 02, 2014 2:58 PM by Wendy Fehlauer

    I had an MRI of the brain and orbit with and without contrast today. Took 45 min, and the worst part was lying still on my back for that time. I had ear phones and listened to relaxing music (no ear plugs). Will I get to see the film? Not really worried, but concerned that it won't show why I have problems with my right eye.

    posted @ Saturday, January 10, 2015 6:55 AM by Linda Gehring

    I should like to know if an MRI is useful in assessing the shape of the lens at various stages of accommodation

    posted @ Thursday, August 13, 2015 11:18 AM by

    I had an mri orbital weds evening i was in it for half hour,im such a coward but can honestly say its painless,they put a visor over u before going into machine,i suggest u just close your eyes and think of something nice,the time goes so quick,it gets a bit warm but thats it if i can have one done then anyone can

    posted @ Friday, August 14, 2015 5:37 AM by Nicola winwood

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