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MRI= NOT always correct

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Old 08-18-2004, 07:57 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Maine
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fred223 HB User
Talking MRI= NOT always correct

Want to share this with you all.
I have seen several docters had couple MRI done,said fusion ok? Well I still have new and very bad pain and numbness, Finally got a docter that liston to ME, He did a cat-scan with dye and it showed 3 fracters in the fusion that MRI did not show. I also have a friend that had somewhat same thing,had fusion fell had new very bad pain, MRI showed 1 fracter when they opersted they found 3, two did not show up.
So for all you who have pain and problems and a docter that does one test and dont liston to YOU, Find one who will,Dont give up and liston to just one, Chuck
49 male,faild back fusion lumbar Failed carpal tunnel surgery,heart problems depression,

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Old 08-18-2004, 10:26 AM   #2
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Re: MRI= NOT always correct

While the MRI on my lumber was accurate in it's problems I can attest that MRI's do not always show what's going on. In 94 my ACL stopped functioning but the MRI's indicated that nothing was wrong. Upon surgery they discovered that the elasticity was gone and the ligament non functional. I also incorrect MRI's of both shoulders in the past. In 93 I had a 1 inch spur that ripped my rotator cuff from being on crutches a long time after a hip replacement. The MRI didn't show the huge spur but it did show the tear. This last November, similar situation, MRI showed a healthy joint but upon surgically opening it up it was loaded with small spurs.

As a general rule they are pretty accurate but there are times when they are not.

Old 08-18-2004, 05:47 PM   #3
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carol632 HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

Fred you are so right. In l996 my husband was rear-ended. He almost right away began having pain in his hand, which spread to pain in his thumb and index finger and then to his arm in 2 areas. Mri showed only a moderate bone spur that was not showing any nerve impingement or anything else that would cause his pain. After 2 cervical injections, the pain was worse, and my husband insisted on having surgery to remove the spur. Reluctantly, our surgeon agreed. After surgery, he came to me, his face flushed, to report that there were 2 ruptured discs in there, one large fragment was laying on a nerve! So, though they are reliable, they are not infallable.

2 lami's, 3 fusions
bone spur removal
cerv. fusion, 1 level
morphine pump

Old 08-18-2004, 08:30 PM   #4
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Rampage HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

100% AGREE!!!! It took 3 years to diagnose my problem (annular tear L3-4), and it was found because I insisted on using my last hope (discogram).

I had at least 1 MRI a year - that's the aggravating bit. Within 2 weeks or so of the accident, I told them it felt like my pelvis was splitting in 2. Couldn't find anything. By the time I got to an ortho, I was so frustrated at not knowing that I insisted they be aggressive as possible. FINALLY!

Discogram injects dye and takes an MRI. But, if your pain is bad, expect the dye to create your pain to its maximum! It never did me in - the IDET was less painful! They also recommend you stay home for 2 days - I needed it.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
Accident '00
Sciatica, L3-4 Tear, Spinal Stenosis, DDD L3-S1
IDET '04
Laminectomy '06
Fusion (BMP) L4-5 '11
Anterior Fusion (BMP) L3-S1 '13

Old 08-19-2004, 04:55 AM   #5
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Re: MRI= NOT always correct

Oh boy, do I ever agree with you all.Over the past three years i have had seven MRIs on my cervical area and one CT.i have found that over the years that what shows up in the radiology report definitly DOES NOT always reaveal what is going on,and alot of this depends on just how the radiologist decides to interpret the films.I found that with one particular radiologist,he always seemed to be extremely thorough,and with the other one, he would barely even comment on just what was actually there.i also found out as you all did that the MRIs don't always show just what is there.if there is ever any question as to what is going on with you,if you are having pain and the MRI states that there is nothing wrong, by all means request a CT for further clarification.I feel so badly for the people with debilitating pain who are told by their docs after an MRI that 'there is nothing wrong in there",and continue to have pain that just overtakes their entire lives.Not to mention the fact that just asking for any type of pain meds after being told that there is nothing wrong,makes your doc think that you are just a drug seeker looking for that next high.

You just have to be very aggressive when it comes to your health.I was very lucky in that when i was experiencing increased pain after my herniated disc surgery and the mRI said that everything was hunky dory and fusing nicely,i knew that something was wrong.when I told the NSs office, they basically blew me off and said that the MRI says your fine.well, i was not fine,my neck was making this horrid bone crunching sound everytime i moved it, i also had a huge increase in the pain levels that just kept getting worse.I told my primary that something was just not right in there.He believed me and kept Rxing the proper pain meds for me and also discussed my problems with the NS and we had a CT done that showed what I had felt was really wrong the whole time,my fusion definitely WAS NOT fused,DUH!!

That whole episode just really angered me sooo much.I now really push things when it comes to my healthcare.I do not care if you are the best neurosurgeon that ever walked the earth.If I feel something is not right, I push it with the docs until they really address my current problem because if you don't you get blown off and end up miserable,and doubting your own sanity.we are our best advocate.If we don't speak up to our drs when we feel things are not right,who will?Just remember,always question until you get the answers that will satify you.Sometimes there are no answers,but at least you know that you have done everything that you possibly can to help yourself ,you know?take care all,marcia
3-22-01,herniated C-6-7
11-20-01,placement of hardware for failed fusion
9-22-03,removal of cavernous hemangioma that was inside spinal cord. Neuro damage to L hand L leg and R leg.

Old 08-19-2004, 06:51 AM   #6
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Josephine66 HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

My nephew was 21 and in severe pain from his back. The MRI did show a small problem but when the surgeon opened him up he found that his spine was actually in two pieces and moving independantly. Because he was so young they thought he was just drug seeking too.

Sometimes there is something going on that the MRI can't show. My DSis had 4 vertabre in her neck fused. The surgery and fusion went well but her pain and numbness continued to get worse. To the point that she couldn't even walk anymore. Finally, through a fluke test they found elevated protien in her spinal fluid. It turns out she has a disease that destroys the meylin sheath around her nerves. It is an autoimmune disease.

Old 08-19-2004, 04:48 PM   #7
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cookie51 HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

Hi Fred,
The same thing happened with my husband about 8 mths. ago. He hurt his back at work, and was in such pain, nothing helped, they did mri and where going to operate on him and he said no, because he sees what happened to me with back surgery and did not what to take the chance. So he was on morpine and you name it nothing helped, finally they sent him for a mylogram and found out if he would have had the surgery done he would still be in pain because the mri did not show the problem, it was located where the mri did not pick it up. Well the dr. said if they did operate they would have to go back in and do surgery on what showed up on the mylogram. Well its been 8 mths. and he still takes pain pills, and inflammatory pills, and seems to be doing pretty good, some days it feels like it coming back, but really he has not had that horrible pain he started with, I think now after having such horrible pain for so many days, when he gets pain now he tolerates it better, but we pray the day doesnt come back like it was before, because, I think then he will need surgery.
Hope all is well

Old 08-22-2004, 07:17 PM   #8
Join Date: Aug 2004
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richm734 HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

Hello all,

Unfortunately, I can understand and sympathize with your pain and frustration regarding neck and upper back pain. I had a fusion at the c6-c7 level in 1992 and have lived with neck, shoulder and arm pain since. In the 2 years following my fusion I went crazy, running around to doctors, getting multiple mri's cat scans and xrays because the surgury did not aleaviate the pain. The doctor that did the surgury told me that the pain was in my head and that I needed to go back to work and the pain would go away. Needless to say I went to other doctors hoping that they would find a problem that another surgury would fix. It was obvious to me that the other surgeon's were telling my that I was not a good candidate for surgury because they did not want to go against the doctor that operated on me. MRI's after the surgury indicated problems at the level above (c5-c6) and below (c7-T1). One doctor was considering operating on the herniation at c7-T1. He sent me for another mri stating the first one was not clear. After the 2nd mri I was told that the disc was protruding to the right side and that would not be causing the pain that was in my left shoulder and arm. I finally decided to live with the pain and go back to work. On top of the physical pain I was so depressed and dejected from dealing with the system (docs, insurance cos).

From 1994 until May 2004 I was able to work full time. The pain never went away, I just think that as time went on my tolarance for pain has improved and I accepted my limitations (can't play contact sports, lift weights, water ski). I had to learn the hard way and accually tried to water ski in 1999. I was in pain for about 3 months afterwards. The doctor ordered an mri that revealed the same herniation at C7-T1, but recommeneded PT and the pain finally decreased to the point prior to the water skiing ordeal.

In May of this year I reinjured my neck/upperback helping another Tech lift an office copier. I've been in alot of pain since and have gone to PT without much releaf. The WC doctor's were reluctant to do an MRI until I insisted. I went back to the Doctor last week and he told me that my MRI looked good and he released me to go back to work full time. I have not returned to work because I do not feel I can perform my job in this much pain. I don't think the WC doctor has my best interest at heart. How does my this MRI look fine when previous scans indicated a herniation at c7-T1 and a disc bulge at C5-c6? I brought this up, then he said I do have degenerative disc desease at c5-c6 but this is consistant with the fusion surgury I had. I think the WC doc is full of it. I am considering making an appointment with a surgeon through my regular health insurance.

Any feed back would be appreciated. It feels like this is "Nightmare Part Two" for me. Sometimes it does help a little knowing other peaple have gone through the same mess.


Old 09-22-2004, 06:35 PM   #9
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IzzyFuzzy HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct


Sounds to me that after 12 years you may have to find a Dr. who can understand the probability that you have degeneration above and below your fusion. I sincerely hope you can find what you need.

Old 09-23-2004, 06:17 AM   #10
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dpaz HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

I also agree about the MRI not always being accurate. What I've also seen is that the radiologist's report and what the doctor sees does not always correlate. With the last MRI of my back, the radiologist report said that there was degeneration of the facets in L4-L5 and L5-S1, but the disc was intact. My neurosurgeon looked at the films and he says the same about the facets, but that they are greatly impinging on the nerves, especially L4 left and right, and that L4-L5 is herniated. I just wonder how insurance companies decide who is right, especially since I am trying to prove this is worker's comp.

Old 09-23-2004, 07:34 AM   #11
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Terri43 HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

I also hurt my neck and back on the job and W/C has tried to get me to go away. It has been 4 months and now they are sending me to a neuro surgeon. I have 2 herniated discs in my neck impinging on my spinial cord and 2 herniated discs in my back impinging on my nerve roots. I had to get a lawyer before they would do anything.

Good luck

Old 09-23-2004, 07:49 AM   #12
Join Date: Apr 2004
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MaO3 HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

I'm glad to see this thread. I have spondolisthisis at L4/L5 and have terrible nerve pain. My MRI showed the spondy but not the nerve impingement. My GP believes that I have nerve pain but the Neuro that he referred me to will not see me because of the MRI result.
The Neuro suggested Fermoral Neuropothy(sp) which I had an EMG for, of course I dont have that.
My nerve pain is in all likelyhood sciatic although much of the time my pain runs down the front of my leg not the rear as they would expect.
I saw my GP on Tuesday and he is basically telling me " I sympathise with you and know how much pain your in but there's nothing that I can do for you right now".
Where do you go when this happens, the incorrect MRI result has left me hanging.
Where do I go from here???

PS I live in a relatively small city in Ontario Canada and we have no Spine surgeons or Neuro's locally. I was being referred to a Neuro about 31/2 hours from my home.

Old 09-23-2004, 12:36 PM   #13
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Janice1033 HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

HI: MA03:

I can really sympathize with the problem you have about the Nero.S. being so far away. I live in a relatievly large city in B.C. with a reginal hospital and we have no nerosugeons here at all. The first time I went to see my Dr. I flew the second time we drove as flying was going to cost me about $1000.00 as I didnit want to leave my daughter at home again.

When I went to see him the first time it was to tell me I needed a MRI which I had to go home for. The second was to tell me that I had severe nerve pain as well as DDD and a buldging disc but nothing could be done to help me surgically at this time. I have a new perscription that seems to be working well and I just cant afford to get a second opinion so I am stuck right now.

I am sorry I cant help you with a solution just wanted you to know that you are not alone in this. Maybe talk to your Dr about trying Gabapentin(sp) as it has worked for me so far.

Take care:


Old 09-23-2004, 01:16 PM   #14
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Mistina HB User
Re: MRI= NOT always correct

I can totally sympathize with you all. I have been in terrible pain and have had majorly limited mobility for three years cause the MRI AND bone scan kept stating that I just had a simple herniation. I went to doctor after doctor and NOONE would listen to me that my pain and discomfort was REDICULOUSLY uncomfortable. Finally, last summer I talked my former doctor into going in and doing a discectomy, which I knew he'd find something else cause this was like "bone pain" sorta thing and I just knew what was going on. Well, when he agreed and said he'd go in and trim the disc and he found huge spurs wrapped around my nerve roots and removed them and told me that when he was in there he told himself, "I'll be garsh darn, she was right"(in lamest terms). So, I was glad that I wasn't nuts! But, that surgery failed and the spurs are back along with the herniation so I will be having a fusion at this level on 10-21.

Moral of the story: if you insist there is something "else" going on and they don't believe you, throw a fit until you get your way, you know your body best!!!

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