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Three Spinal Conditions Identifiable through MRI
Three Spinal Conditions Identifiable through MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is one of the tools that can be used to diagnose spinal conditions.  An MRI combines computer technology, a magnetic field, and radio waves to produce two dimensional images of organs and structures inside the body.  MRIs are versatile and provide superior imaging.  Advantages of an MRI are that the test is free from radiation, painless for the patient, and doesn’t usually require a contrast dye.

MRIs can produce highly detailed images of soft tissue and are better tools for distinguishing between normal and abnormal tissue.  Since an MRI can produce images in different anatomical planes, physicians are able to see the anatomy from different angles.  The following are some spinal conditions that can be identified through MRI testing.

Disc Herniation

Physicians are able to identify herniated discs on MRI with a high degree of accuracy.  A herniated disc occurs when the outer band of the disc cracks and the inner gel leaks out.  Herniations cause pressure on the spinal canal or nerve roots and surrounding tissue.  MRI scans are able to pinpoint the exact location of the herniation, which helps the physician determine the best course of treatment.  The scans are particularly important if surgery is being considered.

Nerve Impingement

An MRI can identify a nerve impingement, or pinched nerve.  This condition often causes pain that radiates into the arms or legs, depending on the site of the impingement.  The MRI will help identify what may be compressing the nerve including arthritis, a fracture, a herniated disc, or a tumor.

Spinal Tumors

Spine cancer or spinal tumor disease.3d illustration

An MRI may be ordered when a spinal tumor is suspected.  It’s useful in diagnosing tumors of the brain, spinal cord, nerve roots, and surrounding tissue.  Doctors are able to identify the precise location and size of the tumor and are often able to distinguish between malignant and benign growths.  Early diagnosis of a tumor can improve patient prognosis.

Are there persons who should not have an MRI?

An MRI may not be appropriate for some people including those with the following:

  • A pacemaker
  • Some types of metal and dental implants
  • Intracranial aneurysm clips
  • Cochlear implants
  • Implanted drug infusion pumps
  • Pregnant women
  • Those who are physically too large

Atlanta Brain and Spine Care

Our neurosurgeons offer patients access to some of the world’s most advanced diagnostic tools and treatments.  We have five convenient metro Atlanta locations.  Contact us to schedule a consultation with a spine specialist.

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