Brain Imaging

UC San Diego Health is one of only about 20 centers in the nation to perform magnetoencephalography (MEG).

MEG is the most advanced and accurate functional brain imaging technique currently available. It is also non-invasive, painless and quiet. MEG works by measuring the very weak magnetic fields in the brain, associated with the brain's electrical activity (neuronal firing). Its advantages over other imaging technologies include:

  • Compared with fMRI, which uses blood flow as a proxy for neuronal activity, MEG provides direct information on the brain's electrical activity
  • Because the skull is transparent to magnetic waves, MEG can be used to precisely locate where brain activity is occurring, unlike electroencephalograms (EEGs)

Look to UC San Diego Health for your brain imaging because we are trusted by other health care systems for the quality of our imaging expertise. UCLA Health, UC Irvine Health, Kaiser-Permanente and Rady Children's Hospital – San Diego all refer their patients to us for MEG brain imaging.

Brain Imaging Services

Brain imaging with MEG may be recommended to:

  • Pre-surgically locate the sources of epileptic seizures to improve surgical outcomes of patients
  • Pre-surgically locate the eloquent cortex in patients undergoing brain surgery for trauma or epilepsy. The eloquent cortex refers to areas of the brain that, if removed, will result in loss of motor skills, sensory processing or linguistic ability, or paralysis.
  • Diagnose concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which cannot be diagnosed by MRI
  • Determine whether a patient is suffering from TBI or post-traumatic brain injury (PTSD), which are treated very differently
  • Map brain networks to study PTSD and other brain diseases
  • Conduct research on the efficacies of medications for schizophrenia

How to Prepare for Brain Imaging

No preparation is necessary. Specific instructions for your specific exam will be given to you at the time of the procedure.

What To Expect

It is an easy procedure, performed in a shielded room that blocks background electromagnetic radiation such as from radio waves and cellular towers. The shielded room creates a "quiet" space for measuring the brain's extraordinarily weak magnetic fields. (These fields are about a billion times weaker than the Earth's magnetic field.)

You will sit or lie down in the scanner with a helmet on your head. The scanner detects and records your brain's own natural magnetic waves.

The procedure takes from five minutes to one hour depending on your test. There are no injections, nor will you be exposed to radiation.

Insurance Accepted

UC San Diego Health accepts most major health insurance plans. You're encouraged to call your health plan and verify that UC San Diego Health is an in-network provider.

Verify Your Coverage