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Posted in: Back pain, Neck pain, and Whiplash.

mri jargon please help me to understand

Started by lessjo on 10/17/2011 8:04am

mri cervical spine. Alignment is maintained.there is reduced t2 signal indicating disc dehydration at multiple c levels with minimal disc height reduction at c4/5. there are disc osteophyte bars at several levels. these are abutting the left side of the cord at c4/5 and the right at c5/6, although there is still a small volume of cfs preserved posterior to the cord at both levels and no cord flattening or distortion. There is likely however to be nerve root inpingment within the lateral recesses at both levels, although the exit foramina remain reasonably capacious at both levels.
there is also a smaller left paracentral disc osteophyte bar at c6/7, again slightly encroachingupon the lateral recesses but not causing any major foraminal narrowing. The canal remains capacious but there is slight prominence of the central canal at this level, the central canal however appears of normal calibre at the mid c6 and mid c7 levels and I doubt this appearance is of any clinical relevence. signal in the remainder of cervical and upper dorsal cord down to t4/5 is normal. the cranio-cervical junction is unremarkable and there is no evidence of any sinister marrow pathology in the cervical or upper dorsal vertibral bodies.

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5 Responses


hi lessio,
basically, your cervical discs do not have any fluid in them, ( the fluid in discs act as cushion). and pieces of bone fragememnt are noted at c4-c7 touching your spinal w/ could cause pain...............And welcome to the group, ..If any other questions I CAN answer for u I will try, If not everyone is very helpful in putting in their experienced input....feel better RENE


Thank you for your reply, I am waiting to see an ortho spinal specialist, but the doctors dont seem to be able to tell me much, I am a little concerned of the fact that I dont know if it is dangerous or not, as something touching the cord in my little amount of knowledge is not good, also what I can or cant do, I assume I would have to do what doesnt cause the pain to get too bad but I really dont know.I have had a good few headaches as well lately which may be down to this problem also but I dont know. Many years ago circa 1996 I had an accident where I was standing on a steel gantry which collapsed about 6 foot onto a boat this started my problems in my lower back which are mainly muscle spasm with a few nerve oriented probs including my bladder telling me that it was always full when it was not. an mri was taken which stated l4 l5 l5 s1 discs were dehydrated and protruding and at this time a doctor told me I had compressed my cord, nothing was done and I was left with sciatica in the back of both legs and the back of my hips in fact at the time I could hardly move due to many strange pains I had not felt before even in my heels under my feet but always started in my lower back working its way up to my neck..Then about a year ago I had a car accident which has started my neck and shoulders to play up in fact I then had phisio which made it 100 times worse by making my left hand/arm sieze up and severe pain which I am glad to say is getting better due to a friend doing Bowen therapy on me to straighten me up. anyway I am just totally confused as to my condition till I see the specialist so I am asking for your opinions/knowledge as you all have back problems some a lot worse as I've read. but having experience in the matter and having read and got to a point of understanding the jargon I appreciate your input.


if ur seing a doc, whether a primary, orthopedist till u get to neuro surgeon, ask for an antiinflammatory,pain meds if needed, u havnt said if ur in pain,when u choose ur neuro surgeon pick one of ur better surrounding hosp, and see which neuro surgeon works out of hosp... watch ur movements as to not to strain ur issue, cold paks 20 min on/ and off,heat inbetween. as far as disc poking ur cord, youll b fine ,its just the pain the poking causes. I can tell ur anxious,but thats what where here for. to answer any questions and try n guide u.Lucky you, Im an orthopedic (bone) nurse for 12yrs, unfortunatly out of work since dec. due to my lumbar issues. feel free to ask any questions, Im not a doc, but I can try and help..and REST, REST, REST> RENE :)


Hello nurse Irene, thank you for your last bit of info..... I have just seen the spinal specialist, he talked me through the findings, he said that there 3 areas of degradation and as I have showed an improvement I am not yet a candidate for surgery, he also said the physical problem with regard to losing control of my left arm should be in my right arm anybody got any idea why, he didn't seem to know and I felt a bit of a fraud as I wasn't conventional and conforming to medical standards, I can tell you it's very real to me and I dont understand why he isnt doing further tests. as he said there may be something else causing the problems. He also whist running segment by segment on the scan told me I have damage to my spinal cord, I could see the cord and the inner part was lighter than the outside, I asked why the damage was there and he said it looks to have been crushed when asked "what by" he said he didnt know "maybe a bone has hit it" ??????????? it was left at that as I was a bit in shock to hear about damage to my cord. when I got home I started to cover the consultation in detail with my partner who was with me and only then did a huge amount of questions arise. I drafted a letter to my doctor and the contents are as follows, If anyone would like to comment please do as I dont know where to go from here, my doctor has requested me to see him on the 7th march, nearly 3 weeks away... should or could something be done now as I'm quite worried.

Dear Doctor,
Thank you for your referral to see the spinal expert. He looked at my scans and explained the findings to me. I had written a letter outlining my existing lower back problems and associated symptoms, my medical history, neurological problems, medication and then on to the neck problems and associated symptoms to help him get a full overview of my case.
During the consultation he said I was having symptoms in the opposit arm that I should be having them in, and that the problem may lie elsewhere, as I should be having the symptoms in my right arm? He couldn't say why this is the case. I feel I must remind you that I had these problems before the scan was done and had attended surgery and A&E regarding them prior. He said the scan showed that there were 3 degenerated levels in my neck, and he told me that due to the fact that the arm has improved a little, he doesn't consider that I am a candidate for surgery as yet, I did explain that I am not doing anything at the moment as it aggravates the situation as my lower back problem still does when I overdo it. However,he did say if the arm does get worse, (which it has done on 2 occasions in the last 6 months), I am to be referred back to him. He also said that in his opinion my body is doing this to itself as it must be in my Dna to have this level of degeneration now, rather than in my sixties, I did say in my overview letter that there are no other members of my family who suffer with back problems. I stated to him the problems with my lower back started following a falling accident on on a ship in 1997 and then in my neck following a rear end accident 2 years or so ago, which pushed me into the car in front, Myself, I find it to be too much of a coincidence. He also said the osteophytes have been there a long time which could run into 10 years +. In my view, this would correlate with my body trying to compensate for the damage caused in 1997 to my lower back, but I am no expert in these matters and can only reitterate that the problems I have both started following a traumatic accident.
Whilst looking through the scan and explaining the findings to me, he noticed a damaged area in my spinal cord, this is something that was not on the scan results which I was given initially, and he said that it would be permanently damaged as it looked as if it had been compressed somehow, but he couldnt speculate on how, maybe it was crushed by a bone he said ??

I would request your help regarding this matter as I do not wish to waste another surgeons valuable time but feel a second opinion is warrented by a neurologist, I took on board what the spinal expert said, but obviously now have further questions which I did not ask during my consultation.
Please could you get my scans inspected by a specialist in neurology to check the damage to my spinal cord and determine if it could be the reason for the problems I have in my spine.
Would a scan of the rest of my spine be warrented as I do have pain in my back mid way up which makes me wonder if there is damage further up midway, also it would show if the problem has degenerated further in my lower back at other levels and would confirm if it is my own Dna doing this as the spinal expert said? and in the light of no other family member having back problems, naturally one would think that it could be caused by some other process such as an autoimmune disease.
What has caused the spinal cord to be damaged? Was it caused by the road traffic accident or the original accident I had in 1997?
I had a scan in 1997-8 of my neck/lower back which only showed the degeneration at L4/5 L5/S1. Did it show the affected levels in my neck if so could these be looked at to see if there was degeneration or damage to the cord at that time.
Will it get worse? If so, is there anything I can do to stop it getting worse?
Why do my symptoms appear in my left rather than my right arm.? am I wired the other way round, as everyone is different?
I was rather shocked and now quite worried to hear the spinal experts findings regarding the damage to my spinal cord, and feel that I must make you aware that I have had private physiotherapy treatment which really aggravated the situation a great deal whilst having treatment, it was so bad I had to go to A&E with the arm/neck problems. They then slowly subsided after a few weeks when the course was finished, but I have had them flre up again recently which is when I came to yourself, again got worse then better.
I believe that Physiotherapy has had a detrimental effect on my situation and do not want to go through it again. I would however like to be re-referred to pain clinic if possible.