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Imaging of the spine

Your physician may order imaging of your neck and spine to aid him with diagnosis and treatment of your neck pain. Common diagnostic tests include:

 

xray of the cervical spineX-rays are performed to look at the bone. X-rays can detect bone spurs, fractures, cervical deformity in the curvature of the spine, osteoporosis, and disc degeneration. The x-ray is performed by an X-ray technologist at your physician's office or at a local medical imaging facility. The x-ray machine will be positioned over your neck. The physician may order 2 views (anterior/posterior, and lateral), or 4 views (anterior/posterior, lateral, flexion, extension). You will need to remove all metal hooks, snaps, and jewelry and inform your physician or X-ray technologist if you may be pregnant. A radiologist will "read" the X-ray films and send a report to your physician. Your physician will need the X-ray films and the radiology report at your appointment. If you are obtaining your X-rays at an imaging facility, ask them for a copy of your films when you arrive for your appointment. You will then carry your films with you to your appointment with your spine specialist.






MRI of cervical spineMRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is performed to look at the soft tissue in your body, and in this case specifically the spinal cord, intervertebral discs and nerves in your back and neck. Your physician may order the MRI with or without contrast. Contrast refers to an MRI taken after a special dye has been injected into the body. There is no radiation involved with an MRI, and there have been no documented side effects. The MRI is performed at the hospital or local imaging facility. A radiologist will "read" the films and send a report to your physician. Your physician will need the MRI films and the radiology report at your appointment. If you are obtaining your MRI at an imaging facility, ask them for a copy of your films when you arrive for your appointment. You will then carry your films with you to your appointment with your spine specialist.

Patient's with metal implants from previous spine surgery will need to consult with their physician. If the metal is titanium, it does not interfere with the MRI.







CT scan of the cervical spineCT Scan (Computer Tomography) utilizes x-rays to create a model of the area scanned, in this case your neck and spine. The machine rotates around you to obtain images from all angles. Your physician will order a CT Scan to look at the bone structure of your vertebra and spine. The CT scan is performed at the hospital or local imaging facility. A radiologist will "read" the CT Scan and send a report to your physician. Your physician will need the CT-Scan films and the radiology report at your appointment. If you are obtaining your CT at an imaging facility, ask them for a copy of your films when you arrive for your appointment. You will then carry your films with you to your appointment with your spine specialist.







 

CT Myelogram of the cervical spineMyelogram (CT scan with dye injected). Your physician may request your CT Scan with contrast. Contrast is a special dye that is given to the patient via an I. V. Contrast can highlight specific areas of interest and make the image clearer for the physician. If contrast is required, you can not have food/water for 4-6 hours before the study. The Myelogram is performed at the hospital or local imaging facility. A radiologist will "read" the CT Scan and send a report to your physician. Your physician will need the CT-Scan films and the radiology report at your appointment. If you are obtaining your Myelogram at an imaging facility, ask them for a copy of your films when you arrive for your appointment. You will then carry your films with you to your appointment with your spine specialist. Click on the image to enlarge it.



3D reconstruction of the spine
3D Imaging is relatively new, and is not available at all facilities. 3D Imaging is especially important in complex spinal deformity, tumors, and traumatic injuries. The 3D CT scan is performed at the hospital. A radiologist will "read" the CT Scan and send a report to your physician. Your physician will need the CT-Scan films and the radiology report at your appointment.

 

not intended as a substitute for medical advise.  Always consult your physician about your medical condidion.
Last modified: March 7th, 2011