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can someone help me understand my mri results

Started by james12 on 04/09/2011 8:04pm

c4-c5 disc herination left antrior thecal sac. herination remains at a level of the disc thercal sac. post traumatic etiology.
c5-c6 disc bulge indents anterior thercal sac
c7-t1 disc herination indents anterior thercal sac post traumatic etiology
t1- t2 loss of disc height

could anyone help me understand this please

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3 Responses



"c4-c5 disc herination left antrior thecal sac" means:
Your spine is divided into 3 sections: Upper neck is cervical and has 6 verterbrae or joints, C1 thru C6, The verterbrae are bone and the discs are soft tissue acting as a cushion between the bone. Sometimes this tissue squeezes out which is caused a herniation. The report says c4-c5 is herniated. This is your lower neck. The thecal sac is a like a sausage casing that runs down your spine, it is filled with spinal fluid and protects your nerves which are inside the sac. The herniation is pressing on this sac. Anterior means front, so the herniation is pressing on the left, front of this sac.

"Herniation remains at the level of the thecal sac". means:
I guess the guy making the report felt this was necessary to say this, it basically means the herniation isn't bad enough to pinch the nerves in the sac, a good thing.

"post traumatic etiology" means:
This means the trouble occurred or was a result of an injury.

"c5-c6 disc bulge indents anterior thercal sac" means:
Basically the same thing as c4-c5, so you have another joint in your lower neck that isn't "normal"

"c7-t1 disc herination indents anterior thercal sac post traumatic etiology" means:
Same thing here, but this is the next joint down in your neck. remember the neck is C1, C2, C3....C7, then the upper back is T1, T2, T3....then the lower back is L1, L2, L3..

"t1- t2 loss of disc height" means:
The disc isn't ruptured, just is not as thick as it should be. There are many reasons for loss of disc height and is not really serious unless the disc is so thin that it causes the bone to rub together.

I came here a few months ago looking for similar answers and learned a lot from this site and it's members, so I really don't mind helping. Good luck to you.



Everything Phil says is true and informative.......what to do is another subject altogether. You didn't mention your pain level, but wanted to say that I've had two lumbar (lower back) herniated discs that were extremely debilitating. I had laminectomies for both ( no fusions) and recovered well with very little continuing pain, but now have a third disc bulging just above the two already fixed, causing pain and leg tingling and numbness. Have already had steroid injection, but three weeks later the pain is back. Surgery has been mentioned, but advice is against any kind of FUSION!


For what it is worth, I'll share my experience.

A year ago this past February, I woke up one morning with a major crick in my neck. The pain was terrible. The muscles in my neck were wrenched down, I had stabbing pains in my shoulder and between my shoulder blades. I went to my family doctor twice and took lots of anti-inflammatory pills, muscle relaxers, and pain pills. Nothing helped. After two weeks, I went to a chiropractor. That turned out to be a 3 month ordeal. The chiropractor helped get my pain level down somewhat, but I still remained sleeping in my recliner, if I slept. The Chiropractor seemed to think that if I continued he could help me; however, I knew in my mind that it would not work. After this I tried massage therapy, and then finally the orthopedic doctor. This was my last choice. I did not want to be cut. He had me try physical therapy, but it made it worse.

My MRI showed that my C5/C6 and C6/C7 was herniated, with one pressing my spine, and the other the nerve root. The surgeon stated that the herniated discs would not retract, and would remain hitting my spine and nerve root. The pressing on the spine caused the numbness in my ring and pinky fingers. In combination with the nerve root issue, it caused the stabbing pains in my shoulders and back. He said that I'd have to live with the pain or have it operated on. This was in December.

After almost a year of constant pain and sleepless nights in my recliner, I made the decision to have the operation. The surgeon fused both discs. I will tell you straight up, he told me that it would most likely be an out-patient surgery and the pain should not be great. It turned out that the nerves were in worse shape and he had to work more on them. I woke up in a lot of pain. They had to heavily medicate me and I ended up staying the night.

I stayed in my recliner and remained medicated for the next three to four weeks. I did move around some, but did not walk as much as he had recommended. My pain was less over time, but it was measured in weeks versus days as far as me telling it. After four weeks I returned to work. I was still in my recliner if I wanted to sleep. I'd say my pain level was 4 to 10 before my surgery, and a 4 to 7 after returning to work. My stabbing pains in my shoulders were gone within a few days after the surgery. The stabbing pains in between my should blades went off an on for about 4 to five weeks, but then were completely gone after that. The numbness in my fingers still occur every once in a while. The surgeon said that this was normal in that the longer you wait, the potential for nerve damage is greater. I started easing my way back into my bed to sleep about after month two.

I went back for my 4 month checkup about a month ago. The complications that I were having were heavy muscle spasms in my upper back, shooting up my neck to behind my ears and to the base of my skull. Headaches tended to occur often. This was constant after my surgery, and declined somewhat with time, but not alot. I also had instances of my neck popping. It was like a chiropractic adjustment. After the popping, I'd experience little or no pain for 10 to 15 minutes and then it would start over. My surgeon recommended me for chiropractor treatment, and that is what I'm doing now. I'm about 12 visits in (3 per week), and my pain has reduced. I am probably at a 3 to 5 now. The chiropractor think he can get me to little or no pain, but says I'll have to come back periodically once we get that point just to keep it there. I'm not sure if it will work, but I am willing to try. The alternative is going in for another MRI.

With this said, my recommendation to you is to listen to your body. Is the pain levels tolerable? If so, you might want to try chiropractic treatment to reduce them from where they are now. But the best advice I can give is react quickly in whatever course you choose. I drug my experience out, trying not to do the inevitable. I still have some numbness in my fingers. The surgeon said it may or may not go away. The longer you let the disc hit your nerves/spine, the worse chance for longer or permanent nerve damage. I'm hoping that the chiropractor can help me obtain no pain, or at least slight pain.... but the surgery was the biggest start.

My only regrets is that I did not look harder at the disc replacements versus the fusions. If your doctor ends up suggesting surgery, please look into replacements vs. the fusion. Replacements are not much over a year old; however, everything I read says that the patients have better results than with fusions since the joints remain flexible versus static. Static joints cause muscles and nerves more issues, and that is where I am now.

Good luck!