The lumbar spine refers to the lower back, where the spine curves inward toward the abdomen. MRI examination of the spine is used to portray the anatomy of bones (vertebrae), soft tissues, nerves, and disks. MRI is one of the most accurate and frequently used methods used for examining the lumbar spine in routine clinical practice.
What is MRI lumbosacral spine?
MRI of the lumbar spine is a test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the lumbar spine. Magnetic resonance imaging uses radio waves directed at the body to excite hydrogen atoms in the molecules of water in the human body. A strong magnetic field is applied to orient the protons in the nuclei of hydrogen atoms in a specific direction. These protons emit radio signals when they return to their ground state. These radio signals are used to build a computerized image that shows differences in body tissues based on the amount of water in them.
How is MRI Lumbosacral spine performed?
A standard MRI test of Lumbar Spine with contrast material consists of the following steps:
- Individual to be tested is positioned on the moveable examination table.
- Radio wave emitter and receiver may be placed around or adjacent to the area of the body being studied.
- Individual is placed into the magnet of the MRI unit and test is carried out.
- Images are generated and analyzed on specialized software.
Side effects/risks of MRI lumbosacral spine
MRI is an extremely safe test and poses almost no threat to an average patient if all the safety guidelines are properly followed. However, few of the rare risks associated with this test are as follows:
- Implanted medical device may malfunction during the test if they have any metal content.
- Quality of images may not be as good as expected if the individual to be tested finds it difficult to lie perfectly still when the test is carried out.
Preparation before performing MRI lumbosacral spine
- A loose fitting clothing with no metal fasteners shall be worn.
- Instructions laid out by technician regarding diet before test shall be followed.
- Report of all the medications and allergies should be provided to the radiologist beforehand.
- Technician shall be informed about the medical implantations in the body of individual to be tested beforehand.
- Anti anxiety medication should be given to individuals with claustrophobia.
Post-care after MRI lumbosacral spine
- Individuals who require sedation to stay still during the test shall be allowed some time to recover.
- A person can resume his day to day activities immediately after the test if he does not show any sign of discomfort.