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With neck or back pain, people automatically assume that the spinal discs are the source of pain. Sometimes that assumption is incorrect because frequently the small joints of the spine called the facet joints are the culprit. This very common generator of cervical, thorocic and lumbar pain connects one boney segment to the other, helping to form the entire spinal chain or column like a big long Slinky. These joints are extremely important for supporting motion such as twisting, bending and turning. Without these facet joints, the spine would feel like one big broomstick. Because the spine is constantly in motion, the joints are always being stressed and can become worn out, swollen and painful.
Arthritis in the facet joints is technically called Facet Arthropathy . You'll find that term on radiologists' reports examining the spine by X-Ray, MR, or CT imaging. Facet arthropathy can be seen in those who do not have any pain and in those as young as their 20s. In reality, these jo...
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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