When it comes to back pain or serious spinal conditions, a noninvasive MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, using radio wave energy to form images of internal parts of the body, can be used to either confirm a diagnosis or find evidence of a problem that wasn’t detectable through an initial examination. There are many reasons why a doctor or spinal surgeon in Santa Monica may request an MRI as part of a patient’s evaluation.
Doctors or spinal surgeons typically have a good idea of what they’re looking for when they schedule an MRI for a patient. Spinal surgeons tend to use MRI scans for patients undergoing procedures such as a lumbar spinal fusion or decompression to fine-tune surgeries and check for the presence of spinal tumors or other conditions that are difficult to confirm with an x-ray. Additional reasons a doctor or spinal surgeon may request an MRI include:
While an MRI can be useful, it’s not always the best way to diagnose a back injury. For instance, CT scans are generally used to determine the severity of fractures and for patients who are suspected of having a fracture, as would be experienced after a fall.
Generally, the only time an MRI is needed immediately is when a patient exhibits progressive weakness in the legs (possibly due to nerve damage) and bowel incontinence. However, it’s worth noting that some patients may have a lumbar disc herniation (clearly visible from an MRI scan) without exhibiting any back pain. Normally, a doctor will proceed with the prescribed treatment unless the MRI shows an abnormality.
If you have a back or neck condition and would like to confirm diagnosis through an MRI or if you would like a second opinion, please reach out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration today. Located in Santa Monica, CA, we serve the entire Los Angeles area and have a team of specialists and surgeons who can help determine the cause of your problem and the most effective treatment options.
For more information, please call (310) 828-7757 and schedule an in-person consultation.