What is an MRI?
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic tool, which utilizes radio waves, large powerful magnets, and computer technology to create detailed images of the inside of your body. Board-certified spine surgeon Dr. Kendall Carll of Spine Care of North Texas recommends patients undergo this type of scan to diagnose back conditions, and also to determine how well they've responded to a course of treatment. MRI scans give precise and accurate information about your spinal anatomy but cannot, however, distinguish between injured and uninjured structures. Therefore, MRI scans are rarely used as a sole diagnostic tool. Conversely, MRI scans are typically performed in conjunction with or following a physical examination as well as a spinal x-ray.
"I recently experienced a pinched nerve that severely affected my ability to use my right hand. I contacted Dr. Carll who immediately went to work on my behalf. Knowing that this was a time sensitive situation Dr. Carll went out of his way to ensure that I received the appropriate MRIs, CAT scans, and nerve studies to properly diagnose my situation. After reviewing all the test Dr. Carll exhibited true professionalism and integrity by referring me out to Dr. Patty Young (I am so thankful for your referral) who specialized in the surgery that I would need. Dr. Carll could’ve chosen to operate because I had several degenerative disc, however he chose ethics over profit. Dr. Carll is a true professional that will put your health over profit! When it comes to your health there’s nothing more important than having a doctor that you can trust to be professional and ethical. Thank you Dr. Carll for providing me with both!"- K.H. / Google / Aug 29, 2018
It is not standard practice to undergo an MRI scan at the initial onset of your spine-related pain. This is because most back pain can be resolved in 1 – 3 months with focused, nonsurgical treatment and care. Typically, MRI scans are not utilized until conservative treatments have been attempted unsuccessfully and Dr. Carll feels that is more invasive treatment may be needed to address your back condition. MRI scans do not utilize radiation, making them safe for most patients. However, those with pacemakers and metal implants are not ideal candidates for an MRI procedure because of the risk of damage to the internal organs from magnetization during the scan.
Are They Safe?
When compared to x-ray or CT scan technologies, MRI scans could be considered safer by some standards. MRI scans are completed with a painless radiology technique that has the advantage of avoiding x-ray radiation exposure. There are no known side effects of an MRI scan currently, and the scan presents the dual benefit of providing precise accuracy when detecting structural abnormalities within the spine. However, a patient who has metallic materials in their body (surgical plates and/or screws) must notify their Dr. Carll and the radiologist or technician prior to the scan. Also, patients with artificial heart valves, metallic ear implants, bullet fragments, and chemotherapy or insulin pumps should not undergo MRI scanning.
What to Expect
Before the scan begins, you will be asked to remove any metallic objects from your body, such as piercings or jewelry. After changing into a hospital-style gown, you will be asked to lie perfectly still on the exam table. It is important you remain relaxed and breathe normally during the procedure. The MRI technologist will be in verbal communication with you throughout the scan to help you maintain calm. You will likely hear loud, repetitive clicking noises during the scan. This is simply the sound of the images being taken and is not a cause for concern. The length of time the procedure will last depends on the number of images to be obtained as well as your ability to remain perfectly still.
Dr. Carll has 15 years of experience treating a variety of back conditions and back pain. One of the secrets to his success is his dedication to comprehensive testing and evaluations to provide an accurate diagnosis. If you are suffering from chronic back pain that has not responded to treatment, you may need to undergo further testing such as an MRI to get the answers you need. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Carll at Spine Care of North Texas today to take your first steps toward pain relief.