Spine MRI


  • MRI is magnetic resonance imaging. In spine MRI, the whole procedure uses high power magnets and radio waves to make pictures of the spine area.
  • It also shows the spine bones (vertebrae), the disk, spinal cord and the space between the vertebrae through which nerves pass.
  • In routine clinical practice, it is the most sensitive test of the spine.

Other names

Other names of spine MRI are magnetic resonanceimaging- spine, nuclear magnetic resonance-spine, MRI of spine, NMR- spine

How MRI of spine is done

  • You will be asked to lie on the narrow movable examination table.
  • Some straps or belts are used to keep the body still so that doctors can get correct position during imaging.
  • The table then slides into a large tunnel. Sometimes health care advisors inject a kind of dye through the vein so that certain disease or organ comes out better in the imaging.
  • MRI uses powerful magnets and radio waves instead of radiations that are used in computed tomography scans.
  • One of the experts will operate the machine in the next room and watch the entire procedure.
  • A full or complete scan takes up to 60 minutes but latest scanners can do this work in much less time.

Preparation for the Test

  • As this test uses powerful magnets, a strong magnetic field is made during test.
  • People with cardiac pacemakers can not have this test and even they should not enter MRI area.
  • If you have
    • certain artificial vales in heart
    • older vascular stents
    • brain aneurysm clips
    • inner ear implants
    • recently placed artificial joints

Then you should not get an MRI.

  • You will be asked to sign consent that you are not having any of these metals in your body.
  • This test can easily be performed while you are wearing clothes, so some kind of metal on your clothing can make the results wrong.
  • Jewelry, credit cards, watches and other hearing aids can be damaged in the MRI room.
  • You should not carry any type of metal in the room where scanning is done.

How does Spine MRI FEEL?

  • You will not feel any pain during the test. Some people get anxious while sliding in the tunnel so these types of people are given mild sedative to avoid any type of movement to get better pictures because movement can blur the imaging and can also make some errors.
  • Sometimes people feel that table is hard and cold. You can ask for pillow and blanket in that case.
  • Ear plugs are given to avoid loud thumping and humming noise of machine.

What is the Need of Test?

  • This test is helpful in locating tumors and other problems in the spine disks or spinal cord.
  • It gives pictures of the areas that are hard to view, such as soft tissues, spinal canal and bony segments.


  • A very heavy person is not able to fit on the table.
  • Sometimes it costs higher than other tests.
  • Chances are very rare but injected dye can make some allergies.
  • It is really important that sedative should be given in right quantity otherwise it can create problems.