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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Lumbar Spine

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine is one of the most promising and rapidly improving methods of modern neuroradiology.

With magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine, the doctor gets the opportunity not only to investigate the structural and pathological changes in the spine on MRI, but also to evaluate the physicochemical, pathophysiological processes of the entire spinal cord as a whole, and its structures (nerve roots). Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine also makes it possible to carry out functional studies of the spinal cord, to perform magnetic resonance angiography of its arteries, which does not require direct puncture of the vessel (as in selective angiography).

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbosacral spine, sagittal projection.

Using magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine, it is possible to reliably assess the state of the following structures in patients with back pain (in the lower back or with irradiation to the leg):

  • intervertebral discs (discitis, hernias, and protrusions)
  • joints and joints (sacroiliitis, spondyloarthrosis, spondylosis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc.).

With magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine, in most cases, there is no need for a lumbar puncture, which was widely used by neurologists and neurosurgeons earlier in the diagnosis of some traumatic lesions and infectious diseases of the spine and brain.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine reveals congenital anomalies in the development of the spine and spinal cord at the lumbar level in diseases such as a split vertebra (spina bifida), sacralization and lumbarization, spondylolisthesis, etc. which can be one of the sources of back pain in a patient.

MRI of the spinal cord shows arteriovenous malformation (AVM) at the level of the cone of the spinal cord (indicated by arrows).

When can an MRI examination of the lumbar spine be prescribed:

  • osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine with back pain
  • protrusion and herniated discs of the lumbar spine with pain radiating to the leg
  • metastases of tumor cells at the level of the lumbar spine with paralysis or paresis of the muscles of the lower extremities and disruption of the pelvic organs
  • hemangiomas in the vertebral bodies, in the spinal cord and epidural space of the spinal canal - cavernous, capillary, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), venous
  • spinal stenosis
  • lumbar spine injuries (spinal fractures, spinal dislocation, or instability).

Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine allows you to obtain a series of thin sections, to build a three-dimensional reconstruction of the investigated spine. With magnetic resonance imaging of the spine, it is possible to isolate the vasculature, visualize the ligaments and the epidural space (important for epiduritis), and even individual nerve trunks emerging from the spinal canal.

Such reconstruction provides invaluable assistance to the neurosurgeon in planning the operation and for subsequent postoperative control.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine, intervertebral disc herniation on L5 – S1 level.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine, intervertebral protrusion (prolapse) of the L5 – S1 disc.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine, intervertebral protrusion (prolapse) of the L3 – L4 and L4 – L5 discs.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbosacral spine, rupture of the fibrous ring of the intervertebral disc L5 – S1.

Early and accurate diagnosis allows timely treatment of spinal diseases. With the help of magnetic resonance imaging, it is possible to simultaneously demonstrate:

  • the spinal cord and spine over a large extent without the introduction of contrast agents into the spinal cord spaces (myelography) and without the use of ionizing radiation (X-ray)
  • determine the location and size of tumors of the spine and spinal cord (membranes, roots, vascular tumors, the spinal cord itself)
  • the condition of the intervertebral discs (hernia and protrusion)
  • assess the condition of the intervertebral joints and vertebral bodies

Currently, magnetic resonance imaging has come to the fore in the diagnosis of most diseases of the spinal cord and spine, pushing aside such methods as myelography and computed tomography (CT) of the spine.

In terms of differential diagnostics in magnetic resonance imaging of the spine, it is of great importance to obtain cross-sections at different levels, as in the case of detected spinal stenosis, etc.

Narrowing of the lumen of the spinal canal with compression of the spinal cord on magnetic resonance imaging of the thoracic spine by a tumor.

Our patients are invited to undergo an MRI of the spine using an apparatus with a magnetic field of 3.0 T (Tesla). It is also possible to conduct MRI with intravenous contrast (Omniscan contrast) to increase the visual difference between healthy tissue and tumor. Weight restriction (for a patient with a large weight) during magnetic resonance imaging - up to 200 kg.