An MRI is a magnetic resonance imaging test that is useful in the study of the spine. An MRI scan offers an assessment tool for the diagnosis of certain back conditions by offering imaging details of the spinal disc and nerve roots. MRI tests may also be used when ruling out tumors on the spine or spinal infections.
The MRI scan was developed in the 1980s and has been a revolutionary diagnostic test for patients with chronic and acute low back pain. Doctors utilize the MRI in planning the best treatment program for back pain.
Diagnosing Back Problems
The MRI is used when a doctor suspects disc herniation. When a patient experiences leg pain and lumbar disc herniation is a possibility, your doctor may order an MRI to rule out a herniated disc. Since surgery is one of the few treatment options for lumbar disc herniation, it is important for your doctor to have a clear image of the spine. The MRI reveals abnormalities and allows your doctor to assess the spine for surgical need.
When an MRI is ordered, the doctor looks for specific information. Answers to your doctor’s questions are often answered in the imaging of the MRI. Results of the images may include:
- Abnormalities – issues that occur near the spine that cause or simulate spinal pain.
- Disc hydration – is there enough fluid around the disc and if not, what kind of treatment is needed.
- Intervertebral disc – bulging, herniated, dehydrated, or degenerated disc. Here your doctor is looking at the appearance of the disc, disc height, and if the disc is damaged in some way.
- Spinal canal size – is there enough space to accommodate the nerves and spinal cord.
- Spinal cord – assessment of the spinal cord
- Spinal alignment
- Post surgery conditions – if the patient has had spinal surgery, is there anything contributing to the improper healing process. Examples of post surgery conditions include another disc herniation, infection, or post-op scarring.
Based on the patient’s medical history and symptoms, the doctor will have a suspicion of what the MRI might reveal. The doctor will examine the MRI scan and report thoroughly to diagnose the condition and design the best possible treatment plan.
Other Areas of the Body Assessed
An MRI is a noninvasive procedure that allows doctors to examine tissue, organs, and the entire skeletal system. The high-resolution images help doctors diagnose various problems that occur throughout the body. Aside from the brain and spinal cord, other areas may benefit from MRI assessment. These areas include:
MRI of the heart
The MRI scan is effective when assessing the heart and blood vessels. An MRI scan of the heart may detect the size and function of heart chambers, the thickness of the heart walls, and the extent of damage caused by a heart attack or cardiovascular disease. Structural problems, such as aneurysms may also be detected. Inflammation of the blood vessels and blockages are found in the MRI scan.
MRI of internal organs
MRI scans may be used to check for tumors and abnormalities within the liver, spleen, pancreas, uterus, ovaries, kidneys, prostate, and testicles. Doctors find MRI tests of the internal organs highly useful in diagnoses.
MRI of the breasts
In addition to a mammography, an MRI may be used to detect breast cancer. In women with dense breast tissue, an MRI is often used. The images provide clear views into the breast tissue so that the doctor may examine for tumors.
For quality imaging, visit the Henry Ford Macomb Imaging Center. The quality, care and service of Henry Ford Macomb Hospitals is in your neighborhood. Our certified, experienced technologists use the most advanced technology to perform a wide range of diagnostic tests. Our staff ensures a comfortable imaging experience and all studies are read by our board certified radiologists with training in a wide range of sub-specialties. Make your appointment today. Call 586-203-1600 or go to HenryFordMacomb.com/radiology.