MRI of the lumbar spine


Long been the leading procedure for the study of the lumbar spine was recognized as an x-ray in two projections, it is logical to start the examination and to this day. Normal shots give the possibility to evaluate the deformation of any part of the spine, diagnose fractures, subluxations, dislocations of the vertebrae, to determine the level of damage.

Over the last decade, doctors have appreciated an MRI that allows you to take pictures of the spinal cord along its entire length and in all projections. This study recognizes damage to the spinal cord, and intramedullary hemorrhage and without myelography. MRI detection of traumatic disc herniation and epidural hematoma, that is damage, to eliminate that need surgery. In the rehabilitation period at the site of hemorrhage within the spinal cord occurs posttraumatic cyst, and it is also possible to detect on MRI.

Using MRI it is possible to avoid invasive studies, which are difficult to tolerated by patients and require training before their implementation, especially lumbar puncture. MRI allows to make a definitive finding on pathology which is not visualized by other methods.

Advantages that can not boast of other diagnostic studies

MRI is a noninvasive examination method, is painless and requires no preparation from the patient, and also has a number of advantages:

  • During the procedure, the patient is not exposed to the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, and therefore no long-term side effects associated with the use of radiological methods of diagnosis. MRI can do this indefinitely, without restrictions.
  • MRI is an indispensable method in a number of diseases: congenital anomalies of the structure of the spine, chronic diseases of the spinal cord, lumbar hernias, malignant and benign tumors, vascular malformations.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging shows areas that are hidden behind bone structures.
  • For the procedure lumbar MRI with contrast, used the drug of gadolinium, which is much less likely to cause allergic reaction than iodine containing preparations for use in computed tomography and radiography.
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  • No method, except MRI, can so clearly visualize the pathology of the spinal cord, this is especially important when it is acute compression.
  • Method is more sensitive to changes in the structure of soft tissues than CT and radiography, and allows to diagnose tumors and abscesses in the early stages, which allows to immediately start the treatment and keep the patient’s health and life.
  • Minimized the influence of human factor on the results obtained.

The situation and condition that does not allow to use the method in the diagnosis

MRI is quite expensive method, it can be prescribed only after medical examination and review of x-rays. If the standard methods do not allow to make a conclusion about a specific pathology or specialist suspected a serious illness, the patient is directed to MRI.

Patients who have artificial pacemaker, insulin pump, surgical staples on the blood vessels of the brain or heart, MRI is contraindicated. The magnetic field can cause the pacemaker to shift surgical staples, which will cause soft tissue damage.

Many patients are interested in the question: will it hurt to do an MRI if you have braces? No, because in the process of examination of dangerous heat only those metal products, which diameter more than 20 inches. Not to mention the fact that almost all modern braces are made of titanium and other paramagnetic materials resistant to the action of a magnetic field.

Lumbar MRI can be done for patients with braces, as they are far from the study area and cannot distort the results!

Pregnant women must inform the doctor about their situation. MRI is not performed to patients in the first trimester of pregnancy, despite the lack of proven effect of the magnetic field of MRI on the fetus.

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Children up to 7 years to conduct such a study is possible, but quite difficult, since the inside of the device, it is necessary to lie still for about an hour, and sometimes longer. Before contrast-enhanced MRI is required to collect the patient’s allergic history: Allergy to contrast medium, bronchial asthma. If you want to hold allergic test.

In General, MRI is burdensome for the patient study. Specially prepared before magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine is not required.
In conclusion, we can say that MRI is one of the most sensitive methods of diagnosis of pathologies of the lumbar spine. He may not displace the x-rays from a leading position of research, but will remain indispensable in the study of particularly dangerous diseases of the musculoskeletal system and over time will broaden the field of application in clinical practice.