For non-medical people wondering about specific Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exams of the spine, it’s pretty simple:
- When examining the spine in the neck, that is an MRI of the cervical spine
- For a closer look at the spine in the upper back area, that is an MRI of the thoracic spine
- To acquire images of the lower spine and back, that is an MRI of the lumbar spine (also called lumbosacral)
An MRI of the spine is done to:
- Find problems of the spinal discs, such as a ruptured disc. The test may also show if a disc is pressing on a nerve, causing symptoms such as sciatica.
- Find areas of the spine where the canal is abnormally narrowed (spinal stenosis) and may need surgery.
- Find tumors affecting the bones or nerves of the spine. The tumors that most commonly spread to the spine include those from prostate, breast, or lung cancer.
- Find compression fractures of the spine.
- Check areas of joint inflammation (arthritis) or bone loss found during an X-ray test or a bone scan.
- Find areas of the spine that do not have good blood supply.
- Find an infection.
- Find nerve damage caused by injury or disease, such as multiple sclerosis.
- Check problems of the spine that have been present since birth (congenital).
Typically, an MRI of this type is performed without the use of any contrast material. However, an MRI may be done using contrast in order to see abnormal tissue more clearly. The contrast material also may help tell the difference between old surgical scars and a new disease or injury.
Capitol Imaging Services is accredited by the American College of Radiology and the Intersocietal Accreditation Association in MRI. We are the largest independent radiology practice of its type serving the Southeastern United States. Not only do we perform the scan, such as an MRI, we also provide the radiology expertise to review test images and issue critical findings to physicians and other healthcare providers.
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