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Need help with MRI results

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Old 06-25-2012, 05:20 PM   #1
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Post Need help with MRI results

I just got the results of my MRI in the mail and I am in need of some explanation/interpretation of the results. I have an appointment July 12th, but I would like some information before then. Here is the exact text from the letter:



REASON FOR STUDY: neck pain with right arm numbness

TECHNIQUE: MRI of the cervical spine was performed without IV contrast.

The following sequences were obtained:

PROTOCOLS: Sagittal STIR, Sagittal T1, Sagittal T2, Axial T2


Alignment is normal. No compression fracture. Signal within cord is normal. The visualized brainstem and posterior fossa are normal. Prevertebral soft tissues are normal.

C2-C3: Normal

C3-C4: There is bilateral foraminal narrowing because of shorts pedicles and mild uncovertebral hypertrophy.

C4-C5: There is a small broad disk bulge producing mild central stenosis. There is bilateral foraminal stenosis secondary to short pedicles and uncovertebral hypertrophy.

C5-C6: There is a broad posterior disk osteophyte complex along with bilateral uncovertebral hypertrophy producing significant central and bilateral foraminal stenosis.

C6-C7: There is mild foraminal narrowing bilaterally because of short pedicles.

C7-T1: Normal

1. Significant central foraminal stenosis at C5-6.
2. Mild central stenosis at C4-5.
3. Multilevel foraminal narrowing because of short pedicles and uncovertebral hypertrophy.

Permanent images of this exam have been recorded.

Parts of it I understand, and other parts are no so clear to me, and the picture as a whole is far from complete in my mind. It is probably better that I get a fresh take on this than try and bang my head uselessly trying to piece it together from all over the internet. Any help with some preliminary interpretation is greatly appreciated.


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Old 06-26-2012, 12:17 PM   #2
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Re: Need help with MRI results

Sorry no one responded to your post yet. I can give you a rough interpretation, but I am more comfortable dealing with lumbar issues. You will note that there is another board where most people with cervical problems post. It is named the "Spinal Cord Disorder" board. Be sure to check it out, too.

Basically the radiology report states that you have issues with stenosis at all levels beginning with the C3-C4 segment and running through the C6-C7 level. The worst problem occurs at the C5-C6 level where there is disc osteophyte complex and hypertrophy. This is a situation, usually caused by "wear and tear", where the disc usually extends beyond its boundary and the edges of the vertebrae adjoining the disc get roughed up. They begin to grow jagged edges and develop osteoarthritis...and this results in the disc being too big for its space. It pushes out into the foraminal openings, which often results in a compression of the spinal nerve as it tries to exit the spine at this level. In your case it is pushing into both the neuralforamen and both sides, and into the central canal. These are the two areas where stenosis occurrs.

Stenosis just means a narrowing. Think of a rusty old pipe that becomes clogged up with mineral more and more "gunk" accumulates, there is less and less room for water to pass through the pipe. Eventually the pipe gets so clogged that the water is slowed to a trickle. So it is with the central canal and with the foramen. With joint degeneration and arthritis, the "openings" that the spinal nerves need to travel through become clogged and narrowed. As the walls get more and more clogged, there is less and less room for the nerves and eventually they become compressed. Pressure pushing on the nerve results in nerve pain that radiates along the course of the nerve....This can result in pain that you feel in an arm, or chest, or leg...Each spinal nerve is responsible for innervating a particular area of the body and it follows a particular route called a "dermatome." You can look online to find a "dermatome map" which will show you that the C6 nerve, for example, innervates the inner side of the arm and runs into the thumb. If you have numbness in your thumb, your doctor will know to begin looking for a problem with the spinal segment around the C6 nerve...etc....

So basically you have some issues that are causing stenosis at two main levels of your cervical spine -- worst at C5-C6, and also at C4-C5.

Hope this helps clarify. The doctor will correlate the findings of the MRI with what he finds in his physical exam, basic neurological exam and from hearing about your symptoms and health history.

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