Hello, I’m Dr. Jay Pahade, a diagnostic radiologist at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. I’d like to talk with you about magnetic resonance imaging of the spine, also known as spine M-R-I.
Spine M-R-I uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to produce detailed pictures of the spine and surrounding tissues. It’s often used to evaluate the structure and positioning of the vertebrae that make up your back, to assess spinal injury, nerve and disc problem and arthritis. It can also be used to look at cancers involving the vertebrae or spinal cord.
M-R-I may be performed with or without a gadolinium-based contrast material. If contrast is required, it will be injected through an I-V into a vein in your arm.
If you’re scheduled for a spine M-R-I, there are several things you can do to prepare.
First, discuss any serious health problems, recent surgeries, and allergies, especially to gadolinium based contrast material with your doctor. Also, inform your doctor and the technologist if there is any possibility that you might be pregnant.
Be sure to notify the MRI technologist if you have any medical devices or metal objects implanted in your body. These metal objects can interfere with the magnetic field of the M-R-I unit. The magnetic field itself is not harmful; however, some implanted devices may malfunction or cause problems during the exam. It’s important to tell the technologist about any metal in your body when getting an M-R-I to make sure you can undergo the MRI safely.
On the day of your exam, wear loose, comfortable clothing and leave any jewelry at home. You may be asked to wear a hospital gown.
Most M-R-I exams are painless. Because the machine produces loud tapping and buzzing noises, you may be offered earmuffs, earplugs or headphones to reduce the sound. Spine M-R-I exams tend to take longer than other types of spine radiology tests and may last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Some patients may find it uncomfortable to lie still for long periods while others may experience claustrophobia inside the M-R-I machine. If you have a concern, you may want to ask your doctor for a mild sedative to take prior to the exam.
For more information about spine M-R-I, visit Radiology Info dot org.