WHEN IS MRI SPINE PRESCRIBED?
- Back pain
- Trauma (suspected injury to spinal cord, nerve root, and soft tissue)
- Degenerative conditions
- Primary or metastatic neoplasms of spinal cord, vertebral column, spinal meninges
- Vascular disorders (spinal cord infarction, spinal vascular malformation)
- Known or suspected demyelinating disease or myelopathy (e.g. multiple sclerosis)
TECHNOLOGY USED IN MRI SPINE
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is a common procedure used by hospitals around the world. An MRI Scan utilizes a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the organs and tissues within the body. MRI scans are a non-invasive and painless procedure. Unlike X-rays and CT scans, MRI does not ionize radiation, which is potentially harmful to the patient.
HOW IS MRI SPINE TEST PERFORMED
The MRI machine looks like a tube that has both ends open. You lie down on a movable table that slides into the opening of the tube. A technologist monitors you from another room. You can talk with the person by microphone.
Before the exam you will be asked to fill out a screening form asking about anything that might create a health risk or interfere with imaging. Items that may create a health hazard or other problem during an MRI exam include:
- Cardiac pacemaker or implantable defibrillator
- Catheter that has metallic components that may pose a risk of a burn injury
- A ferromagnetic metallic vascular clip placed to prevent bleeding from an intracranial aneurysm
- An implanted or external medication pump (such as that used to deliver insulin or a pain-relieving drug)
- A cochlear (inner ear) implant
- A neurostimulation system
- A catheter that has metallic components that may pose a risk of a burn injury.
Items that need to be removed by patients and individuals before entering the MR system room include:
- Purse, wallet, money clip, credit cards, cards with magnetic strips
- Electronic devices such as beepers or cell phones
- Hearing aids
- Metal jewellery, watches
- Pens, paper clips, keys, coins
- Hair barrettes, hairpins
- Any article of clothing that has a metal zipper, buttons, snaps, hooks, underwire, or metallic threads
- Shoes, belt buckles, safety pins
Objects that may interfere with image quality if close to the area being scanned include:
- Metallic spinal rod
- Plates, pins, screws, or metal mesh used to repair a bone or joint
- Joint replacement or prosthesis
- Metallic jewellery including those used for body piercing
- Some tattoos or tattooed eyeliner.
- Makeup, nail polish or other cosmetic that contains metal
- Bullet, shrapnel, or other type of metallic fragment
- Metallic foreign body within or near the eye (such an object generally can be seen on an x-ray; metal workers are most likely to have this problem)
- Dental fillings (while usually unaffected by the magnetic field, these may distort images of the facial area or brain; the same is true for orthodontic braces and retainers)
During the MRI scan, the internal part of the magnet produces repetitive tapping, thumping and other noises. Earplugs or music may be provided to help block the noise. If you are worried about feeling claustrophobic inside the MRI machine, talk to your doctor beforehand. You may receive a sedative before the scan.
In some cases, a contrast material, typically gadolinium, may be injected through an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your hand or arm. The contrast material enhances the appearance of certain details. The material used for MRIs is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than the material used for CT scans.
An MRI can last up to an hour or more. You must hold very still because movement can blur the resulting images.
WHY IS MRI SPINE TEST DONE?
- Abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord
- Tumours, cysts, and other abnormalities in various parts of the body
- Injuries or abnormalities of the joints
- Certain types of heart problems
- Diseases of the liver and other abdominal organs
- Causes of pelvic pain in women (e.g. fibroids, endometriosis)
- Suspected uterine abnormalities in women undergoing evaluation for infertility
MRI SPINE TEST RISKS
MRI does not use ionizing radiation (high-energy radiation that can potentially cause damage to DNA, like the x-rays used CT scans).
There are no known harmful side-effects associated with temporary exposure to the strong magnetic field used by MRI scanners.