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My first class medical was deferred because I had optic neuritis due to a side effect from the covid vaccine. I was treated and my vision went back to 20/20. Now the FAA is asking for a vision test and MRI. I don’t want to provide the MRI since I think it’s a little excessive and could create new problems if anything else is found on it. Can I not send that in, and send in only the vision test with a note from my doctor?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand from the question whether this involves existing MRI records, or an FAA request to take an MRI and submit those results. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Jul 4 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ They want me to send in an existing one $\endgroup$
    – Shauna H
    Jul 5 at 18:05

5 Answers 5

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The FAA is asking for medical records that I don't want to give. May I refuse?

14 CFR 67.413 - Medical Records may help in answering your question. It states:

(a) Whenever the Administrator finds that additional medical information or history is necessary to determine whether you meet the medical standards required to hold a medical certificate, you must:

(1) Furnish that information to the FAA; or

(2) Authorize any clinic, hospital, physician, or other person to release to the FAA all available information or records concerning that history.

(b) If you fail to provide the requested medical information or history or to authorize its release, the FAA may suspend, modify, or revoke your medical certificate or, in the case of an applicant, deny the application for a medical certificate.

(c) If your medical certificate is suspended, modified, or revoked under paragraph (b) of this section, that suspension or modification remains in effect until you provide the requested information, history, or authorization to the FAA and until the FAA determines that you meet the medical standards set forth in this part.

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It has already been established in other answers you must provide the documents/information requested, else there will be consequences.

Also consider this: FAA is concerned with the overall safety of aviation. You also should.

Whether or not your MRI reveals anything out of the ordinary should not cause you worry, as I imagine a radiologist has already reviewed it, and found nothing. You are basically getting an extra consultation, and in the unlikely case something of concern is found, that plays in your favour: the medical condition found can be investigated further, and dealt with accordingly.

If you have a medical condition that renders you unfit to fly, you should not fly! Aviation authorities are not a mob hunting down innocent aviators to ground them just for giggles. To even think that is absurd. Do not play hide and seek with death.

Note: I've lost my aviation licence due to a medical condition. After the initial blow, I have fully accepted it. I wish not be a threat to my own, or the safety of others. Well, in the air that is. I still may act like an ass in the land traffic.

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    $\begingroup$ « you should also » :+1. First thing that falls apart, gets forgotten or mistreated is culture of safety $\endgroup$ Jul 3 at 7:36
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If the FAA medical division is asking for something on a deferred application, you have two choices: either send it and probably get your medical, or don’t send it and definitely be denied (and not be able to fly, even under BasicMed or Sport rules).

If they were willing to accept a note from your doctor in lieu of an MRI, they would have asked for that instead.

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[MRI]could lead down another problem if anything else is found on it.

It certainly could, and no coincidence that the FAA wants to see it. The MRI reveals information about a possible multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis within the next few years after an attack of optic neuritis (pages 186-7 here), and may even change the diagnosis from optic neuritis to MS. MS greatly increases the risk of new neurological symptoms in the future. I assume the FAA cares about that, although they are not explicit here. If so, FAA physicians are unlikely to let the OP skirt that issue.

[@Jack Aidley] Do you really want to fly a plane with an undiagnosed issue that would make the FAA ban you?

Modern MS treatments are extremely effective if started early, and that's one reason why MRIs are done, for risk stratification, in optic neuritis. Either the treating physician was remiss in not explaining this to OP ... or OP isn't telling us all they know. Not getting an MRI to avoid compromising a pilot's license would be the sort of poor judgment I'd not wish to see in the pilot of an airplaine on which I was a passenger.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. It's like 'not looking at the traffic light' to avoid running it while red. $\endgroup$
    – Aganju
    Jul 3 at 3:59
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    $\begingroup$ I think you mean that the diagnosis of optic neuritis is an indicator that the patient has a higher risk of MS, right? Not that having an MRI will affect or increase the risk? (I am suggesting you edit your answer to fix your phrasing.) $\endgroup$
    – cjs
    Jul 4 at 0:02
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    $\begingroup$ @cjs That is true, but it's not what I meant. I meant that having an MRI will affect the risk. The MRI results actually. With ON, risk of MS is greater than the general population. Get an MRI, and that risk is shifted either up, or down, depending on MRI results. MRI affects risk in the sense that it provides information on the probability of MS, not that it causes MS. In this respect, it is no different from ON, which, as you correctly say, is an indicator of increased risk of MS, i.e. it provides information on the probability of MS. $\endgroup$
    – Scott
    Jul 4 at 15:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Scott: That's "will reveal additional information about the risk" not "affect the risk". The risk is probability conditioned on what is, not on what you know. Improving what you know will move the risk assessment closer to the true risk (and simultaneously decrease the uncertainty present in the assessment) $\endgroup$
    – Ben Voigt
    Jul 4 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Scott, Ben is right, but even more important is that your post can currently be read as saying that the MRI itself is a risk-increasing procedure, similar to how an X-ray (very slightly) increases your chance of getting cancer. (In other words, read as "MRIs give you MS.") I am pretty sure that this is a) not correct, and b) you do not want to be saying or even implying this. $\endgroup$
    – cjs
    Jul 5 at 0:43
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It is unclear in your question if you have already had an MRI, or if you wish to avoid having one.

You must release the records the FAA requested. If there is no MRI to release, then you won't be supplying one. They may subsequently ask for one, but it should be absolutely clear that you have not withheld any requested records.

The MRI record, if you have one, will consist of two parts. The first part is the radiologist's report, which is easy to release. Providing the image data is more difficult, and will require that you find where the image data is stored, contact where it is stored about their procedure, probably pay a fee, and get DVD(s) with the images. They may require sending this directly to the FAA. Some disks of image data are encrypted.

My experience is not based on dealing with the FAA, but instead because I needed to supply scans to a new medical practice.

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