FROM OUR EXPERTS
Deciding whether or not to have surgery, any surgery, is a difficult decision. When the surgery involves your spine, brain, heart or other critical part, that decision gets even tougher. Even though spine surgery is rarely a case of “do it or die,” your life still hangs in the balance. You need to weigh your options carefully and have some good reasons to let a surgeon operate on your spine.
Bowel and Bladder Problems
Bowel or bladder problems related to the spine are considered an emergency; this alone is a good reason to have spine surgery sooner rather than later. The nerves that control the bowel and the bladder travel in the spinal cord and any pressure on those nerves can result in permanent loss of control. A malfunctioning bladder or bowel due to nerve damage is called a neurogenic bladder or bowel. If you have a known spinal problem and have recently experienced a change in your ability to urinate and defecate, you have got to get that ch...
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the spine is a noninvasive procedure that uses powerful magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the spine area, including the vertebrae (spine bones), the spinal cord, and the spaces between the vertebrae through which the nerves travel.
See also: MRI
Magnetic resonance imaging - spine; Nuclear magnetic resonance - spine; MRI of the spine; NMR - spine
How the test is performed
You will be asked to lie on a narrow table, which slides into a large tunnel-like tube. The health care provider may inject a dye through one of your veins. This helps certain diseases and organs show up better on the images.
Unlike and computed tomographic (CT) scans, MRI does not use radiation. Instead, it uses powerful magnets and radiowaves. The magnetic field produced by an MRI forces certain atoms in your body to line up in a certain way. It's similar to how the needle on a compass moves ...
A lumbosacral spine CT is a computed tomography scan of the lower spine and surrounding tissues.
Spinal CT; CT - lumbosacral spine
How the test is performed
You will be asked to lie on a narrow table that slides into the center of the CT scanner. You will need to lie on your back for this test.
Once inside the scanner, the machine's x-ray beam rotates around you. (Modern "spiral" scanners can perform the exam in one continuous motion.)
Small detectors inside the scanner measure the amount of x-rays that make it through the part of the body being studied. A computer takes this information and uses it to create several individual images, called slices. These images can be stored, viewed on a monitor, or printed on film. Three-dimensional models of organs can be created by stacking the individual slices together.
You must be still during the exam, because movement causes blurred images. You may be told to hold your br...
You should know
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