What is it?
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) of the spine, also known as a lumbar MRI scan, does not use X-ray radiation. It instead uses a powerful magnetic system to make images of the lower spine. It can create dozens or sometimes hundreds of images in a short time.
What is it for?
Spine MRIs are conducted for low back pain, leg weakness and numbness, spine injury, trauma, herniated discs, multiple sclerosis or bladder problems.
How to prepare
- You will be given special instructions on what to eat and drink prior to the exam
- Talk to your health care provider about your medical history, current medical condition, medicines you are taking and any allergies you have
- You will be asked if you have any implanted medical devices. Implanted medical devices can malfunction or cause problems during an MRI.
- An allergic reaction may occur from the use of a contrast material (dye)
- The strong magnetic fields can cause pacemakers and other implants to malfunction
- Metal inside your body may be moved or shifted slightly because of the magnetic fields
- An MRI is not recommended if you are pregnant, as it can cause a harmful increase in the temperature of the amniotic fluid
What happens during?
- You may be given a sedative to help you relax and feel comfortable and less anxious
- You will be positioned on a moveable examination table. It’s important to keep still to ensure that precise images are taken.
- Contrast material may be used. It is injected in your hand or arm by I.V. The contrast material helps to clearly see specific areas.
- You will be in a separate room from the MRI technologist but you will be watched and in constant communication with the technologist.
- The scan takes between 30 to 60 minutes but may be longer
What happens after?
- There is no recovery time unless you were given a sedative to relax
- You can resume your regular diet and activities following the MRI