Magnetic Resonance Imaging MRI and Herniated Disc by KBNI Houston, Katy, Woodlands, Spring, Sugarland, Memorial City, Texas
Patients often wonder what the best test is to determine whether they have a herniated disc in the spine. Without a doubt, magnetic resonance imaging MRI has revolutionized the imaging field of medicine, and allowed immense clarity and accuracy when trying to diagnose a herniated disc. There are several different primary imaging exams that physicians use to aid in making an accurate diagnosis. When it comes to the spinal column anatomy, an incredibly complex system of powerful load-bearing bones and facet joints all working in conjunction with spinal discs and nerves, making an accurate diagnosis can be difficult. Typically, physicians will begin with a series of physical exams that test a patient’s mobility and back pain levels. Based on these findings, physicians will have a much better approximation of the possible causes for the patient’s back pain. Consequently, a series of spinal imaging exams may be recommended to confirm the diagnostics. X-rays are normally used when spinal fracture is suspected, but if soft tissue damage (such as spinal nerve compression) is the main cause of a patient’s back pain, magnetic resonance imaging MRI is used to gain an accurate estimate of the damage.
Magnetic resonance imaging MRI uses powerful magnetic fields and radio wave energy to map the body’s soft tissue systems. This information is then relayed to a computer so that different systems can be studied in more detail. Magnetic resonance imaging MRI also has the advantage of remote viewing, where clinics that have access to other physicians’ MRI recordings can make recommendations based on samples that have been relayed electronically. MRI scans can be done on what is known as a closed machine or magnet, or an open machine or magnet. Typically, for patients who have difficulty with claustrophobia, an open magnet or machine may be easier to tolerate. For patients with claustrophobia, a mild oral sedative or an intravenous ( IV ) sedative may help them to tolerate the machine. Most patients are able to have their MRI scan done on a closed machine, with accommodations made, even if they have mild claustrophobia.
Different MRI sequences on the MRI scan can help the radiologist and spine surgeon (neurosurgeon or orthopedic spine surgeon) to help determine whether the herniated disc is more acute or chronic in nature. In addition, MRI images can be taken in different planes. This means that the orientation of the images of the spine can be seen in sagittal (as if looking from the side), coronal (as if looking from the front of the body) or axial (as if looking from the feet with the patient lying on their back) views. With a high quality MRI scan, individual nerve roots can be seen in cross section, and a herniated disc which compresses the nerves can usually be easily visualized. Typically, an MRI scan of the cervical spine shows the spine from the skull base to the top of the thoracic spine. A cervical herniated disc can be easily seen in cross section or sagittal views on a cervical MRI. A thoracic spine MRI scan typically shows the spine from the bottom of the cervical spine to the top of the lumbar spine. A thoracic herniated disc can be seen on axial and sagittal MRI views. A lumbar MRI scan usually shows the spine from the bottom of the thoracic spine to the sacrum, which lies below the lumbar spine. An axial or sagittal MRI scan will usually show a lumbar herniated disc. A spine surgeon finds that an MRI scan provides critical information for a herniated disc surgery.
Within the spinal column, magnetic resource imaging MRI allows for complete renditions of the spinal discs (herniated disc) , which help in determining conditions like advanced disc degeneration, herniated disc, cartilage degeneration between the facet joints, and integrity of the spinal canal that houses the central nervous system’s spinal nerves. MRI scans can also be used as a secondary imaging exam if the results of an X-ray or CT scan (computerized tomography) are inconclusive. MRI scans are not always able to pinpoint the origin of a patient’s back pain, however, due to the fact that some patients may exhibit extreme pain while showing relatively few signs of soft tissue degeneration. Other patients may show much more degeneration in the spinal column, facet joints, or spinal disks, but have much lower levels of back pain during routine movement. As with other imaging exams, MRIs are used in conjunction with other imaging exams to ascertain whether more serious methods of treatment (such as back surgery) are necessary.
When a patient is not able to undergo an MRI scan, possibly due to an implanted pacemaker or spinal cord stimulator, they can undergo a myelogram. A myelogram is a study in which a spinal tap is performed, usually in the lumbar spine, and a water soluble iodine dye is placed into the spinal canal. This iodine dye shows up on x ray and CT scans of the spine. After the myelogram is performed, with iodine dye in the spinal canal, a CT scan of the spine is performed to show an outline of the spinal nerves, and determine whether there is pressure upon the nerves. In this manner, a herniated disc in the lumbar, thoracic or cervical spine can be seen. The CT scan will also who any hard bone spurs or calcium within the herniated disc.
Neurosurgeon spine experts at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston, TX, have expertise in using MRI scans to evaluate the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine, and diagnose a herniated disc, among other spinal disorders. With accurate scanning and imaging techniques, KBNI physician experts can help to diagnose the cause of pain or weakness in the neck, back, arms and legs, and to find a treatment strategy which will help the patient recover. In the majority of cases, patients will achieve good relief of pain without the need of a spine surgery. When surgery on the spine is needed, neurosurgeons at the KBNI utilize the latest techniques in minimally invasive spine surgery techniques, when appropriate.
The Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX takes care of patients in Houston and the surrounding areas, including Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Tomball, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Memorial City, Texas Medical Center (TMC) and other Texas TX cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.
Patients suffering from neck pain or back pain, or who have been told they may require a spine surgery, can contact the Kraus Back and Neck Institute at
……. Or visit www.SpineHealth.com to schedule an appointment online
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