What to Expect During a Spine MRI
Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
An MRI is a common medical imaging tool used to diagnose a multitude of spinal conditions. Despite its popularity, there are still a number of misconceptions and myths surrounding the MRI. In this article, we will explain what an MRI is, how it works, when its useful, and what to expect when you get one.
What is an MRI?
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It utilizes magnets to create images of the body’s inner structures that cannot easily be seen using other methods. Unlike X-rays, an MRI does not use any radiation.
What to Expect During an MRI
First of all, no an MRI is not painful. You may experience slight discomfort as a result of having to lay still for a long period of time, but the test itself does not cause any pain.
When you go in for an MRI, you will be fitted with a hospital gown and asked to lie down on a table that then slides into the MRI machine. Once the test begins you simply have to lie as still as possible for the length of the test (usually 30-60 minutes). The person administering the MRI will monitor you from a neighboring room. The machine itself produces loud noises, so you will sometimes be given the option of listening to music during the test.
Those who suffer from claustrophobia may have a difficult time due to the enclosed space in which you are required to lie in during the length of the test. However, there are anti-anxiety medications that can help combat this.
When the test is over, there is no recovery period. You are free to go back to your normal daily activities immediately.
When an MRI is Helpful
MRI scans are helpful in diagnosing a number of conditions in all regions of the body. Specifically, MRIs are commonly used in the diagnosis of the following spinal conditions:
- A slipped, bulging, or herniated disc
- Acute trauma to the spine
- Spinal tumors
An MRI can help your surgeon determine the exact cause of your pain, and plot a course of treatment to correct the issue.