MRI of the spine

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 25.06.2018

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The diagnostic technique of magnetic resonance imaging is now recognized as one of the most revealing and informative instrumental procedures. For example, MRI of the spine will help assess his condition as a whole, or in certain areas: in the lumbar region, sacrum, neck, chest. This method is based on the effect of a magnetic field and is considered safe for human health.

What is better to choose: MRI or ultrasound of the spine?

Ultrasound can diagnose diseases not only internal organs, as many think, but also the spinal column. It should be noted that this method has its undeniable advantages:

  • cheapness and availability of the procedure;
  • no need for a long stationary state;
  • the possibility of direct communication with the doctor during the research;
  • absolute harmlessness.

However, MRI of the spine is still considered a more informative, accurate and sensitive method. Pictures obtained during the study, may be useful in the future, if the doctor will have any questions about the condition of the patient's spine.

Some doctors recommend first doing ultrasound, and then (if the information is not enough) - an MRI.

Is the MRI of the spine harmful?

Many people doubt the harmlessness of some diagnostic methods, including MRI, because the procedure is based on the effects of magnetic waves. How can such waves affect human health? Is it possible that harm will manifest itself not immediately, but in time - for example, in months and even years?

In fact, a magnetic flux of a sufficiently high frequency is used to conduct MRI, which can not provoke the development of diseases in humans. And neither at the time of the procedure, nor after it. Scientists more than once conducted relevant experiments and tests - first on animals, then on humans. The fact of safety of MRI was fully confirmed.

Of course, some precautions still will not interfere. For example, you should not carry out the procedure "just in case", "for yourself". Diagnosis nevertheless should appoint a doctor, having for this purpose certain reasons.

What is the MRI of the spine?

Magnetic resonance diagnostics involves the production of a series of images from different angles and planes of the corresponding section of the spinal column. Each separate picture shows a layered picture of the tissues of the back zone being examined.

Pictures can be obtained under different slopes and angles. Usually, the doctor carefully examines the preliminary diagnosis, and then clearly determines which part of the site he needs to consider.

After receiving the pictures, the specialist begins to decode them - a description. Due to detailed images, it is possible to detect and characterize hernia of the spine, inflammatory elements, spinal disorders, abscesses, traumatic injuries, tumors, etc.

Indications for the procedure

The MRI procedure can be assigned:

  • for the diagnosis of injuries, injuries to the spinal column, as well as for assessing the dynamics of the healing process after operations on the spinal column;
  • to exclude primary and secondary tumor processes;
  • for diagnosis and characteristics of intervertebral hernias;
  • to assess the dynamics of the spinal column;
  • for preoperative follow-up;
  • with intercostal neuralgia of unknown origin;
  • with clinical symptoms indicating a lesion of the spinal column.

The procedure of MRI of the spine is not a cheap method of diagnosis, so the patient independently makes the final decision, after preliminary medical consultation.

Is it possible to carry out MRI of the spine during pregnancy?

The usual diagnostic test during pregnancy is ultrasound. Everybody knows about this, and there are few questions about this. But is it possible to carry out MRI at different times of pregnancy?

Magnetic resonance imaging, as we said earlier, is considered a safe method. In pregnancy, this is especially important, because under certain circumstances a woman may need such a diagnosis. Of course, if the choice is between X-ray and MRI studies, then the priority of MRI will be unambiguous.

It is generally believed that the period of bearing a baby is not a contraindication to the procedure. Nevertheless, some experts advise to refrain from conducting research in the first trimester, when the laying of the most important organs and systems of the future organism.

A pregnant woman should in no case independently insist on the passage of an MRI. The direction of the study should be given by the doctor, based on the appropriate indications.

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Is MRI performed in a healthy spine?

If the doctor suspects any violation, he may well prescribe a study with a relatively healthy spine. Well, if the doctor's fears are not confirmed. Otherwise, an adequate treatment of the problem will be prescribed.

Of course, if the patient has no complaints about the condition of the spinal column, then it will not be necessary to assign studies for prevention.


The MRI procedure involves the use of a significant magnetic field. This must be taken into account when determining precautions before the test.

Immediately before the MRI of the spine, the patient takes off all metal things:

  • chains, earrings, rings;
  • clothes with metal buttons, zippers, decor.

Separately add other items of metal: keys, metal money, magnetic cards, etc.

The nature of food and the time of food intake do not affect the results of the study. However, it is not recommended to drink a lot of liquid before the procedure: during the MRI the patient is in a special capsule for some time, and it will not be possible to leave this capsule ahead of schedule for going to the toilet.

The duration of the diagnostic session is from 15-20 minutes to one hour.

Is it possible to carry out an MRI of the spine with a large body weight?

Patients with a large body weight also get sick, and sometimes they need a study like MRI. But what to do if excess weight is a contraindication to the procedure, and why?

Indeed, the device for MRI has some limitations. First of all, this is the growth, volume and weight of the patient. Practically all existing tomographs are provided for examination of people with body weight up to 200 kg. However, there are still limitations on the diameter, that is, a person with large volumes simply can not fit comfortably in the capsule.

Nevertheless, there is a way out: there are open-type tomographs that do not have a closed capsule and are suitable for examining complete people, including. True, it is necessary to clarify whether there is such an apparatus in the clinics and diagnostic centers of your region.

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Who to contact?

Technique of the mRI of the spine

The MRI of the spine does not cause discomfort to the patient. The only need is a strictly fixed horizontal position for the entire period of the procedure. Sometimes especially sensitive patients are advised to take a sedative before testing.

In addition, the MRI is associated with a significant noise effect, so the patient can offer special earplugs.

After preparation, the researcher is placed on the equipped bed, which is then pushed into the capsule-tube. In the capsule, the magnetic plates are contoured, along which the bed with the patient moves. During the session, the device produces the required number of images - tomograms.

At the end of the study, a person can go about his business - home or work.

How long does the MRI of the spine?

The MRI procedure itself lasts approximately 40 minutes, sometimes a little more or less. A snapshot of the MRI of the spine with a transcript can be ready within an hour: it is given to the patient on hand, or sent to the treating doctor.

MRI of the lumbosacral spine

MRI of the lumbar spine is considered more in demand for the diagnosis of diseases associated with degenerative and dystrophic disorders. It is usually carried out in the following cases:

  • with osteochondrosis;
  • with protrusions and hernias;
  • traumatic injury;
  • with developmental defects;
  • with primary and secondary tumors of the lumbar region.

To clarify any of these problems, a neurologist can appoint an MRI of the lumbosacral department. The images are taken in several projections in the affected area, more often transversely and sagittally. The most optimal cut size is from 3 to 4 millimeters without gaps. A photograph of T² with the smallest thickness of the gap is transverse. The cut must be angled relative to the location of the vertebrae.

Often MRI of the sacral spine is performed using contrast - a special substance that is administered intravenously. MRI of the spine with contrast allows you to visualize the features of blood circulation and the fullness of blood vessels.

MRI of the cervico-thoracic spine

MRI of the cervical and thoracic departments is considered one of the most sought-after procedures in the diagnosis of spine diseases. The fact is that the damage to the vertebral discs and the consequences of osteochondrosis in these areas are relatively common. In some cases, the presence of small hernias and osteophytes that occur asymptomatically can be determined.

MRI of the cervical spine often consists of T2 images, which are performed sagittally and axially with an ordinary 3 mm cut thickness. This type of research is relevant:

  • for the diagnosis of osteochondrosis;
  • with developmental defects in the cervical region;
  • for the diagnosis of hernias and protrusions;
  • at traumas and tumoral processes.

MRI of the thoracic spine is often performed in conjunction with the study of the neck area, since in many cases the pathologies of these departments are interrelated.

In severe and multiple back injuries, with numerous tumor metastases, the doctor can prescribe MRI of all parts of the spine at the same time. This procedure requires a lot of time and patience, as well as significant financial costs, and this must be prepared.

MRI with metastases in the spine

With the spread of metastases to the spine, MRI is the main method for diagnosis. Metastasis is detected as pathological inclusions that destroy the body of the vertebrae.

Most often, tumor particles are spread from such tumors as lymphoma, lung cancer, prostate cancer, myeloma, and breast carcinoma.

The MRI procedure will determine the location, size, quantity and characteristics of secondary tumors.

Contraindications to the procedure

Since harm from the MRI of the spine is not proven, this procedure is considered safe for the body. Nevertheless, a list of contraindications is drawn up, in which MRI is undesirable or impractical:

  • with obvious obesity, excessive body weight;
  • at a phobia of the closed space (the method means finding of the patient in the closed capsule);
  • if the patient's continuous horizontal position is not possible;
  • if there are metal structures and electronic devices (stimulants, fragments, implants) inside the body;
  • at obvious disturbances of mentality at the patient;
  • if the patient suffers from epilepsy or convulsive syndrome;
  • during pregnancy, especially in the first half.

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Normal performance

Decoding, or evaluation of images obtained during MRI, is performed immediately after the procedure.

The following results can be considered the norm:

  • images do not reflect significant pathological proliferation of tissues;
  • The fabrics are light, white, or black, which varies with respect to tissue density;
  • no structural and complete damage was found.

Suspicions can cause such descriptions:

  • marked visual change in density;
  • change of localization or destruction of parts of the vertebra.

At the bottom of the transcript, the doctor usually prescribes a diagnosis based on the study. Subsequently, based on the results of MRI, the attending physician will prescribe appropriate treatment.

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Where is the MRI of the spine?

Find a clinic in which you can conduct an MRI scan is not difficult. As a rule, devices for this type of diagnosis are available in medical institutions of any regional center, as well as in some district diagnostic institutions.

In Kiev, there are a lot of clinics, and even there are institutions where it is not a problem to make an MRI of the spine at night.

We bring to your attention several addresses on which you can register for the procedure of MRI of the spine:

  • Diagnostic Center Kyiv Honey, st. M. Lukyanovskaya Str. Baggovutovskaya 1, room 9;
  • Center for Ultrasound and MRI Med Garant, Kiev City Clinical Hospital No.8, ul. Kondratyuk 8;
  • Diagnostic Center Mediskan Group, art. M. Syrets, st. Riga 1;
  • Medical center Olgerd, Pr. Pobedy 119, ul. Vasilkovskaya 28, ul. Vyshgorodskaya 67.

Price MRI of the spine in different clinics is different, and approximately can be:

  • MRI of the cervical spine - from 550 UAH to 800 UAH;
  • MRI of the thoracic spine - from 550 UAH to 800 UAH;
  • MRI of the lumbosacral department - from 550 UAH to 800 UAH;
  • MRI of the coccygeal zone - from 550 UAH;
  • MRI with contrast release - from 750 UAH without the cost of contrast medium (for one department).

The exact cost of the MRI of the spine should be specified directly in the diagnostic facility at the place of the study.

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