Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a scanning technology that your neurosurgeon may order to evaluate your brain or spinal cord. It uses a huge magnet along with radio waves to produce images of the area in question, and the images will show “slices” of the area so your doctor can look for tumors, lesions, and other irregularities.
An MRI of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) can also detect health issues such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia, aneurysms, and spinal cord disorders. Your surgeon may recommend this imaging if you have recurring headaches, speech or hearing problems, or lactation when not pregnant.
Patients appreciate the fact that an MRI does not use radiation of any kind, unlike X-rays and CT scans. Let’s talk about some of the main reasons why neurologists and neurosurgeons order an MRI scan for patients, and where you can go to have an efficient and accurate evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of your neurological issue.
MRI Can Detect a Brain Tumor or Spine Tumor
If your neurosurgeon suspects that you may have a tumor in your spinal cord or brain, the doctor will likely recommend that you have an MRI. The MRI images themselves will not be able to show whether the tumor is benign or malignant, but it will give the physician an idea about how large it is and exactly where it is located.
If you are having brain surgery or spine surgery, the neurosurgeon will likely order an MRI the day before your operation in order to ensure an accurate picture for the surgery.
Check for Spinal Injury
Your neurosurgeon may evaluate your spine via an MRI scan if you have signs of a spinal cord injury, such as paralysis, numbness, weakness, or tingling. A loss of bowel or bladder control could also be a sign that you have a spinal cord injury.
Complete spinal cord injury causes permanent damage to your spinal cord, in which case you are either a paraplegic (paralyzed in the legs) or a quadriplegic (paralyzed in the legs and arms). The lower on your spine that the injury occurs, the less paralysis you will experience. Likewise, the higher on your spine, the greater the paralysis – which is why someone who has a “broken neck” suffers widespread paralysis throughout the body.
If you have an incomplete spinal cord injury, your spinal cord only has partial damage. In this case, you might have some level of feeling or ability to move, depending on the severity of the spine injury.
Assess for a Herniated Disc
If you have chronic pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling in your back, your neurosurgeon may recommend an MRI to look for anything that may be pressing on your spinal cord – such as a herniated disc. As we get older or if we participate in sports or heavy exercise, the cushiony discs that separate each set of two adjacent vertebrae in our back can become injured.
The softer inside of a disc can leak out and press against the spinal cord, causing pressure and pain. An MRI scan can detect a herniated disc, and the neurosurgeon can then discuss with you your options for repairing the ruptured disc to alleviate your pain.
Neurosurgeons in Lone Tree, CO
Here at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery, our neurosurgeons will carefully evaluate the results of your MRI and determine your options for treatment. Our medical team has many years of successful experience in treating brain tumors, spine tumors, and neurological injuries.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled neurosurgeons, call us today at (303) 790-1800 or fill out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to serving you.