What is spinal magnetic resonance imaging?

Also known as: magnetic resonance imaging of the spine, MRI of the spine, spine MRI, spinal MRI, lumbar MRI.

A spinal magnetic resonance imaging test is a medical procedure used to take pictures of the spine. Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is performed using magnetic fields and radio waves. It differs from CT scans in that it does not use radiation.

What happens during the test?

A MRI machine is a large, donut-shaped machine with a tunnel in the center. The patient will need to lie still on a table within this tunnel while the test is performed. It may take many minutes to an hour. Later on, a computer is used to stitch the images together and form a 3-D model of the spine.

Is any special preparation needed? 

No special preparation is needed for spinal magnetic resonance imaging in most cases. All metal needs to be removed from the body prior to the procedure. Some children might require sedatives in order to remain still during the MRI.

What are the risk factors?

There are very few risks related to spinal magnetic resonance imaging. An allergic reaction is possible in the event of sedation or a contrast dye being used.


Reviewed by: Yadira L Martinez-Fernandez, MD

This page was last updated on: 1/29/2019 3:21:13 PM

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