How Contrast Helps in Spinal MRI

Category: Spine Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 14, 2015

spine mri

MRI scans can be essential in successfully identifying and treating conditions and injuries of the spine. We have already talked about how spine MRI scans work (more on that here), but we haven’t talked specifically about the contrast agents used during the MRI procedure. In this article, we are going to discuss the ways in which MRIs can help diagnose spine conditions and how MRI contrast is integral to that process.

MRI Scans of the Spine

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans are often used when a physician is trying to diagnose a spinal injury or condition. MRIs allow a doctor to better see the structures of the spine that are not visible to the human eye (spinal discs, vertebrae, etc.). Since there is a lot of overlap in terms of symptoms, MRIs can help narrow down a diagnosis before moving forward with treatment.

MRI Contrast for Identifying Spine Conditions

A large part of what makes spinal MRI scans successful is the use of contrast dye. Prior to your MRI scan, you may be injected with a contrast agent – typically composed of gadolinium – through an IV. This contrast will help highlight specific areas of the spine on the results of the MRI scan, and differentiate between certain conditions (for example, narrowing down a specific degenerative spinal disc). To dispel a common myth, contrast agents do not dye your insides, they simply change the way that the MRI scan sees your internal structures.

If you are experiencing undiagnosed back pain, your physician may order a diagnostic MRI scan. Talk to your doctor about the specifics behind the scan and bring up any concerns you may have. MRIs, with or without contrast, are incredibly important for accurately diagnosing spine conditions, which is the first step in treating the condition and reducing spine pain.

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