Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Spine
How It Feels
You will not have pain from the magnetic
field or radio waves used for the MRI. The table you lie on may feel hard,
and the room may be cool. You may be tired or sore from lying in one position
for a long time.
If a contrast material is used, you may feel some
coolness and flushing as it is put into your IV.
In rare cases,
you may feel:
- A tingling feeling in the mouth if you have
metal dental fillings.
- Warmth in the area being examined. This is
normal. Tell the technologist if you have nausea, vomiting, headache,
dizziness, pain, burning, or breathing problems.
There are no known harmful effects from the
strong magnetic field used for MRI. But the magnet is very powerful. The magnet
may affect pacemakers, artificial limbs, and other medical devices that contain
iron. The magnet will stop a watch that is close to the magnet. Any loose metal
object has the risk of causing damage or injury if it gets pulled toward the
Metal parts in the eyes can damage the
retina. If you may have metal fragments in the eye, an
X-ray of the eyes may be done before the MRI. If metal is found, the MRI will
not be done.
Iron pigments in tattoos or tattooed eyeliner can
cause skin or eye irritation.
An MRI can cause a burn with some
medicine patches. Be sure to tell your health professional if you are wearing
There is a slight risk of an
allergic reaction if contrast material is used during
the MRI. But most reactions are mild and can be treated using medicine. There
also is a slight risk of an infection at the IV site.
radiologist may discuss some of the results of the MRI
with you right after the test. Complete results are usually ready for your
doctor in 1 to 2 days.
MRI of the spine
| Normal: |
The bones of the spine, discs, and nerves
No tumors, inflammation, or areas of nerve
damage in the spine are present.
No disease or bone loss in the spine is present.
No ruptured discs are present. There are no
structures pressing on a nerve.
No structural problems that have been
present from birth (congenital problems) are found.
Tumors, inflammation, or areas of nerve
damage in the spine are present. A disease of the spinal cord, such as
multiple sclerosis, is found.
Narrowing of the spinal canal (spinal stenosis) is present.
Broken bones or bone loss in the spine
caused by injury or disease, such as
arthritis, is found.
One or more
discs of the spine are bulging or ruptured or pressing
on a nerve.
A condition that has been present from
birth (congenital condition) is found in the spine or the