Test Details & Preparation
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine uses radio waves, a magnetic field and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the spine and surrounding tissues that are clearer and more detailed than other imaging methods. The exam does not use ionizing radiation and may require an injection of a contrast material called gadolinium, which is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than iodinated contrast material.
An MRI examination of the spine shows the anatomy of the vertebrae that make up the spine, ligaments that hold the vertebrae together, as well as the disks, spinal cord and the spaces between the vertebrae through which nerves pass.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine is performed to assess spinal anatomy and alignment detect congenital anomalies of vertebrae or the spinal cord detect bone, disc, ligament or spinal cord injury after spine trauma assess intervertebral disk disease and intervertebral joint disease explore other possible causes of back pain and more.
Tell your doctor about any health problems, recent surgeries or allergies and whether there’s a possibility you are pregnant. The magnetic field is not harmful, but it may cause some medical devices to malfunction. Most orthopaedic implants pose no risk, but you should always tell the technologist if you have any devices or metal in your body. Guidelines about eating and drinking before your exam vary between facilities. Unless you are told otherwise, take your regular medications as usual. Leave jewellery at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown. If you have claustrophobia or anxiety, you may want to ask your doctor for a mild sedative prior to the exam.
A radiologist, a physician specifically trained to supervise and interpret radiology examinations, will analyze the images and send a signed report to your primary care or referring physician, who will share the results with you.