Hyperintensity On MRI

MRI hyperintensity can be found on MRI reports throughout the body.  There is no specific diagnosis associated with this descriptive term.  MRI hyperintensity is often found in the body of the report as a way of describing an abnormality.

What does hyperintensity mean on MRI?

MRI hyperintensity means that there is an abnormality in the tissue that is brighter then the surrounding tissues.  MRI uses multiple sequences so we can see a hyperintensity on any one of them. We can see hyperintensity in any tissues, organs, lungs or bones.

What can hyperintensity be?

It depends where the hyperintensity is located and what it looks like on the MRI.  The radiologist interpreting the scan will use all the information available to provide a diagnosis or set of possibilities.

Should I be worried about a hyperintensity on MRI?

It depends on what the associated diagnosis is.  A hyperintensity is simply a way for the radiologist to describe an abnormality but says nothing about the diagnosis.

A hyperintensity can represent a wide range of benign and abnormal diagnosis.  Hyperintensity can be a scar, blood vessel to inflammation or cancer.  The diagnosis will depend on the appearance on MRI as interpreted by a radiologist.

What kind of MRIs is hyperintesity used for?

This is a descriptive term which can be used for MRI throughout the body.  This simply means that the observation or abnormality is brighter then the surrounding tissues.   It says nothing of the diagnosis or the appearance otherwise.

What are some specific types of hyperintensities on MRI?

A hyperintensity in the liver can be a cyst, mass, abscess, cancer in addition to other possibilities.  This is just one term we use to describe an abnormality.  The diagnosis will depend on interpretation of the entire scan by a radiologist.

FLAIR hyperintensity on MRI

Flair hyperintensity often refers to a bright spot on a sequence called FLAIR in the brain.   This can be from many causes but is commonly seen from chronic microvascular disease.  Other causes can be demyelination, strokes, bleeds and tumors.  The other sequences and appearance will help narrowdown the possibilities.

White matter hyperintensities

This is a common finding on brain MRIs in the white matter of the brain.  They are most common from chronic microvascular disease.  Other causes can be demyelination disease like multiple sclerosis, inflammation, infection, cancer and stroke.

T1 hyperintense

T1 hyperintense means that there is an abnormality or observation which is brighter then the surrounding tissues on the T1 sequence.  There is no specific diagnosis associated with this finding.

This can be seen with blood, melanin as seen with melanoma tumors, contrast agents, fat, protein and paramagnetic substances like copper.

T2 hyperintense lesions

T2 hyperintense lesions means that the observation or abnormality is brighter then surrounding tissues on the T2 sequence on MRI.

This can be related to different tissue consistencies depending on the appearance on other MRI sequences.  For example, a cyst filled with water will be T2 hyperintense but will also follow water on the other MRI sequences since cysts are filled with water.

A T2 hyperintense tumor will not follow water on other sequences since it is solid and not filled with water like a cyst.


A hyperintensity on MRI is a descriptive term used to describe an abnormality in the tissues.  This means the abnormality is brighter then the surrounding tissues on that particular sequence.  It tells us nothing about the diagnosis by itself.  The diagnosis of a hyperintensity depends on the interpretation of the entire MRI study.

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