About the Scan – Spine MR Scan

SMIL offers spine MR scans to show the anatomy of the vertebrae that make up the spine, as well as the discs, spinal cord and the spaces between the vertebrae through which nerves pass.

Currently, MRI is the most sensitive imaging exam of the spine in routine clinical practice.

MR imaging is performed to:

  • assess the spinal anatomy and alignment.
  • detect congenital anomalies of vertebrae or the spinal cord.
  • assess problems with intervertebral disc disease (degenerated, bulging or herniated) and intervertebral joint disease, both frequent causes of severe lower back pain and sciatica (back pain radiating into a leg).
  • assess compression of spinal cord and nerves.
  • help plan spinal surgical procedures, such as decompression of a pinched nerve or spinal fusion.
  • monitor changes in the spine after an operation, such as scarring or infection.
  • explore other possible causes of back pain (compression fracture, for example).
  • image spinal infection or tumors that arise in, or have spread to, the spine.
  • assess inflammation of the spinal cord or nerves.

To perform the spine MR scan, you will be moved into the magnet of the MRI unit and the SMIL radiologist and technologist will leave the room while the MRI examination is performed.

When the examination is completed, you may be asked to wait until the technologist or radiologist checks the images in case additional images are needed.

MRI exams generally include multiple runs (sequences), some of which may last several minutes. The entire examination is usually completed within 45 minutes.

Learn how to prepare for the scan in the spine MR scan preparations section.

Find out if this procedure is right for you in the benefits and risks of spine MR scan section.

For a downloadable/printable PDF about this exam with preparation instructions click here.

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