MRI of the spine: what shows as passes?


The spine consists of individual vertebrae and intervertebral discs, its stability ligaments, and inside you’ll Canali spinal cord. Lateral processes of the cervical vertebrae form channels, which are the blood vessels that feed the brain.

The painful symptoms of diseases of the spine can be caused by disorders of bones, cartilage (osteochondrosis) or soft tissue and displacement of the vertebrae. Delayed treatment can lead to unpleasant consequences, so you need early and more accurate diagnosis. The only method of diagnosis, which in one procedure gives detailed information about these structures on MRI.

The value of the research results

Magnetic scanning is the only method of examination in which you can see the layered structure of bones, cartilage and more friable soft tissues. Imaging in bone research mode allows to detect changes in the vertebral bodies, provides information about abnormalities of their structure and traumatic injuries.

The condition of the cartilage are studying in the same mode: visible protrusions and hernias of intervertebral disks, as well as changes characteristic of fragmented or polysegmental degenerative disc disease. Changes in the structure, size, breaks and other injuries to the cartilage will also be reflected in the conclusion.

If indicated, the doctor goes to the scanning mode the soft tissue to assess the condition of the intervertebral ligaments, the spinal cord and nerve roots. In this case, he can determine the place where the compression of the spinal cord or spinal nerves, as well as to identify tumors of soft tissues.

MRI is the only noninvasive method of research that gives comprehensive information about the state of the vertebral bodies, intervertebral discs, ligaments, blood vessels and spinal cord in a single procedure.

Magnetic resonance imaging – safe, non-invasive and informative method of investigation, which if necessary can be done repeatedly without any negative effects. The only drawback, the high cost limits the wide application of this type of diagnosis.

When prescribed magnetic resonance imaging of the spine?

  • If you suspect a polysegmental spinal degeneration or the presence of degenerative changes in one of the sections of the spinal cord;
  • Back injury, fall from height, road traffic accident;
  • For suspected benign and malignant neoplasms of the bone or spinal cord;
  • Persistent pain syndromes in the back, the cause of which could not find using other research methods;
  • When symptoms destructive process or specific bone infection (osteomyelitis, tuberculosis);
  • When planning surgery on the vertebrae, intervertebral disc and spinal cord;
  • For monitoring the results of operative or conservative treatment.
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Varieties of MRI of the spine

Depending on survey objectives and available symptoms, prescribe one of the types of magnetic resonance scan of the entire spine or just the affected Department:

  • MRI of the entire spinal column is a versatile type of research, it is prescribed for preliminary diagnosis, if you suspect polysegmental spinal degeneration, to detect changes in the spine in systemic diseases with a primary lesion of bones and joints;

  • The cervical spine is examined for traumatic lesions of the corresponding localization is suspected, cervical osteochondrosis, and severe pain syndromes in the neck. Persistent headaches in the absence of pronounced changes in the results of the examination of the brain are also indications for this type of research. Changes in the vertebrae of the cervical segment can cause syndrome of the vertebral artery;
  • The thoracic spine is affected less than others, so this kind of MRI is prescribed infrequently. An indication for his conduct may be intercostal neuralgia, chronic back pain, osteochondrosis of the thoracic, trauma or before surgery in this area;
  • The lumbosacral spine bears the maximum mechanical stress, therefore, violations in this area are the most common. Indications for magnetic scanning, in addition to personal injury and local pain syndrome lower back, I think a feeling of weakness in the legs and pain in the course of the sciatic nerve, the causes of which are not revealed in the course of other types of research.

In diffuse lesions of the spine (osteochondrosis polysegmental) and systemic diseases scans of the entire spine.If the pathological process is localized in one of the departments, it is possible to investigate the sighting, which will reduce the cost of the procedure.

When an examination with intravenous contrast?

Why do I need to enter the contrast agent when scanning the spine, and in some cases doing this? The study of the spine with contrast is performed when the suspected primary tumors or metastases of this localization, for their identification and differential diagnosis. At the control examination after surgical treatment of herniated disc bespozvonochnoe an MRI with contrast allows to distinguish scar tissue from recurrence of hernial protrusion.

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MRI of the spine with the plumbing

One of the reasons of occurrence of pathological changes in the spine – increased functional load. It happens that when pronounced symptoms of the disease, condition of the spine using MRI in the standard supine position shows no changes, the spine looks normal.At the initial stages of osteochondrosis, hernia of intervertebral disk displacement of vertebral bodies or instability of the joints can occur only at the maximum voltage, that is, in the standing position, that’s why getting an MRI in the upright position of the body.

There are scanners of open type to allow examination of the spine and large joints in the vertical position of the body when the changes will be most pronounced. MRI allows doing so: first, the patient laid on the couch with the thrust pad for the feet and scans in normal mode (the magnetic field source has the form of a sleeve and is moved along the patient’s body). Couch together with the magnetic emitter moves slowly in a vertical position, and scanning is repeated. In this case it is possible to identify violations that previously were not visible.

Pathological changes in the cervical and lumbosacral spine in the early stages may not be visible in the horizontal position of the body. In this case, the prescribed MRI with plumbing. For this purpose, magnetic scanners expert class open.

Most often prescribe MRI allows for the study of the lumbosacral and cervical spine. In the latter case, compare the picture in the supine position at maximum flexion and extension of the neck. Using this technique it is possible to identify pathological changes in the early stages when conservative treatment is still possible.

Are there any contraindications to a MRI of the spine?

MRI – the most safe procedure, and contraindications few, and most of them are relative. The possibility of conducting research should be discussed with your doctor individually.

  • Pregnancy: the study can be conducted in the II or III trimester without contrasting. MRI with contrast is contraindicated. There is no convincing data that the magnetic is harmful for the woman or fetus, but it is believed that in this period any external influence can have negative consequences;
  • The presence of implantable devices (pacemakers, cochlear implants, insulin pumps) has traditionally been considered a contraindication to the application of a magnetic field. It is desirable to have on hands the passport device or the conclusion set his doctor about the possibility of finding the implantable device in a magnetic field: many models allow you to have MRI scan after easy training.
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  • The presence of joint implants, dental implants, titanium plates and screws are also considered contraindications. Metal parts up to 15 cm in length, firmly fixed in the patient’s body by means of screws and is outside the study area do not interfere with the magnetic scanning. They do not move during the studies and not give interference, and can only warm up. If this happens, there will be unpleasant feeling of warmth, which the patient will inform the operator and the study will be stopped.
  • Claustrophobia – contraindication to the study in the machine tunnel type. Being on the couch of the open MRI scanner does not cause discomfort.
  • Severe pain (for example, when polysegmental osteochondrosis) or psychomotor agitation, which does not allow the patient to be immobile, can be corrected medically with analgesics, intravenous sedation or short anesthesia. In this case also the required apparatus open-circuit, so the staff had free access to the patient.

Many of traditionally known contraindications to MRI are relative, that is, if necessary, after some training, the study can be conducted. The ability of the study should be discussed with the physician individually.

MRI with contrast is not carried out during pregnancy and impaired renal function, as administration of the drug in these cases may aggravate the condition.