MRI of the cervical spine: what shows?


MRI of the cervical spine has a high diagnostic value, it has no radiation exposure, which gives the opportunity to study repeatedly in contrast to the x-ray image.

Indications for research

MRI of the cervical spinal cord and surrounding tissue is recommended if you suspect the following diseases:

MRI of the cervical spine is a safe method, so it can be done even for children (appointed in difficult diagnostic cases). However, despite the lack of radiation exposure (compared to x-ray study), this method still has contraindications. These include:

  • Pregnancy, especially if it is first trimester. But there can be exceptions – if the diagnosis is very important, and the woman is pregnant, the MRI does occur, that is, pregnancy is a relative contraindication in cases when diagnosis by other means is impossible, then resort to imaging. Thus its carrying out is possible upon availability of a written opinion of a gynecologist and a woman’s consent.
  • Electric cardiac pacemakers, since the electromagnetic field emitted by the device, capable to cause malfunction of the pacemaker.
  • Arrhythmias that do not respond well to pharmacological treatment (imaging can make them worse or cause an attack). Therefore, the cardiac patient before conducting this study is necessary to consult a cardiologist.
  • The presence of metallic particles in the field of research. If they can be removed (earrings, necklaces, etc.), it is regarded as a relative contraindication. Absolute it can only be when the metal cannot be removed, for example, shrapnel from bullets, located deep in the tissues. In this case, it is recommended that diagnostic x-ray examination.
  • Prosthesis to the inner ear.
  • Various options disorders of consciousness.
  • The strongest pain syndrome of the head, when the patient can’t for a long time to get horizontal. In this case, the MRI is allowed only after the relief of headaches;
  • Claustrophobia – fear of being in an enclosed space.
  • The need for continuous monitoring of vital functions.

It should be noted that contraindications to imaging the following situation:

a) the presence of intrauterine metal spiral;

b) lactation;

C) menstruation.

The diagnostic value and effectiveness of MRI

MRI of the spine shows his cross-sections of those structures that are located nearby, including the site of the spinal cord which then continues in the oblong part of the brain. Thus, tomography enables to visualize the following structures:

  • Soft tissues – primarily of the brain (x-ray, in this respect, is less informative). The value of MRI is increasing, if the research is conducted with contrast
  • Bones (if it is necessary to evaluate only their structure, it is enough to x-ray research)
  • Cartilage
  • Muscle
  • Ligaments
  • Vessels, especially large (study with contrast allows us to study the exact course of the blood vessels).

The method of procedure

The MRI is the result of exposure to the magnetic bodies praying that they differently absorbed. Therefore, the images show that dark place, the light. These images are the basis of regional diagnosis carried out by using magnetic resonance imaging.

Training or how to help techniques don’t make a mistake

Before you get an MRI of the cervical spine with the capture of the spinal cord and brain, you need to obtain from the patient written consent. Up to the moment of its signing person explain the essence of the procedure, expected results, and the diagnostic value of certain risks. The patient is then warned that it is necessary to remove all metal objects that may interfere with the study. It is also impossible to take with me and a mobile phone.

In most cases, research is best done with contrast. This will allow you to obtain a specific conclusion, based on the degree of receipt of a contrast agent in different tissues. It is injected intravenously before the scan. Usually, this substance does not cause allergic reactions, so do not be afraid of contrast.

The scanning

Next, the patient takes a horizontal position on a special table-bed scanner. Usually the research is conducted for 20 minutes. All this time the person must lie still to receive the most accurate and topographically correct images of the spine and its surrounding tissues. Periodically there is a nomination and return reverse of table-couches with the patient to obtain a series of images by scanning. Inside the scanner can fit man or only the investigated area. It depends on the model of the magnetic scanner.

After a detailed study of all the shots the doctor gives the conclusion. It reflects the nature of the pathological process and could speak to the assumption of a particular diagnosis. However, the final diagnosis is set only by the Clinician (attending physician) after a comprehensive analysis of all data for a particular patient.

Thus, MRI of the cervical spine and the initial division of the brain gives you the ability to get the very important diagnostic information. It allows on early stages to detect cancer, cardiovascular problems, disorders of the morphology of the nervous tissue and to study the structure of the vertebrae in the spine. This multicomponent approach is key to the timely start of treatment and leads to good results for the patient. Therefore, MRI should be recommended as one of methods of preclinical diagnostics, which has virtually no contraindications.

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