Jason M. Gallina MD PC

Specialist in artificial disc replacement, non-fusion surgery and minimally invasive surgery

820 2nd Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
541 Cedar Hill Avenue
Wyckoff, NJ 07481
Phone: 212-616-4130 | Fax: 212-983-0483

Description | Indications | Mechanism | Limitations | Risks

MRI Scans - Spinal diagnostic test

Description:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or MRI, creates computer generated images by utilizing magnetic and radio waves instead of radiation. The MRI can illustrate abnormalities of both soft tissue and bones through scans of multiple layers of the spine. The MRI scan is among the most useful diagnostic tools utilized to evaluate spine problems.

Indications:

The MRI creates very detailed computer generated images of many spinal structures including nerves, discs, ligaments, muscles, and bones. Many spinal conditions/diseases, can, therefore, be demonstrated by MRI scan. Among the common conditions that can be seen on the computer generated MRI images, are herniated discs and disc degeneration, or any other pathology which alters either the bony or soft tissue structures of the spine.

Mechanism:

Patients who are having an MRI lie on a table which slides into a large, round, enclosed tunnel, where the MRI scanner produces many computer generated images, which are continually monitored by a technician. Some patients feel claustrophobic inside the tunnel, or are bothered by the noise of the scanner. Some patients request sedation during the test, others distract themselves with headphone music, and others prefer open MRI scanners, which induce fewer claustrophobic symptoms. It takes approximately 30-60 minutes to do the procedure.

Limitations:

Virtually none, though other tests and procedures may also provide helpful information about certain spinal conditions/diseases.

Risks:

None known related to exposure to the MRI scanners magnetic waves. The presence of metal objects in the body, however, is a contraindication, since metal could be attracted to the strong magnetic field created by the MRI scanner. This includes implants, or any other type of metal hardware that may have been utilized in previous surgeries. An x-ray can be utilized to demonstrate that no metal fragments are present in any part of the body that might become problematic during an MRI scan.

Related FAQs and Articles:

What information does an MRI scan give?