Spine MRI

The most suitable method for imaging the spine and spinal cord

An MRI of the spine is performed to create detailed image slices (cross sections) of the various parts of your spine. MR technology produces good soft-tissue images and allows the physician to evaluate different types of body tissue including the spinal cord, vertebral discs, surrounding tissues, nerves to the back, as well as distinguish normal, healthy tissue from diseased tissue.


An MRI may be done using contrast material to see abnormal tissue more clearly. The contrast material also may help tell the difference between old surgical scars and a new disease or injury.


Conditions that benefits for this procedure:

  • Find problems of the spinal discs, such as a ruptured disc. The test may also show if a disc is pressing on a nerve, causing symptoms such as sciatica
  • Find areas of the spine where the canal is abnormally narrowed (spinal stenosis) and may need surgery
  • Find tumors affecting the bones or nerves of the spine
  • Find an infection
  • Find nerve damage caused by injury or disease, such as multiple sclerosis
  • Check problems of the spine that have been present since birth (congenital)


Please remember to bring all related examinations with you to your appointment


There is no need to alter your diet or medication prior to an MRI examination, except from the abdominal examinations (no eating or drinking for 2 hours prior to the examination). During the exam most metal items will need to be removed. Patients with metallic implants, pacemakers or metal clips must notify the technologist prior to examination. If you are having an MRI of the head, please do not wear eye makeup. In case you have a history of allergy or kidney disease, please inform your physician to obtain additional details of your preparation.
You will be asked to remove all of your clothes and change into a gown to avoid metallic objects being inadvertently taken into the scanner. The MRI technologist will help to position you on a movable table and will try to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible. The table will slide slowly into the center of the scanner. A two-way intercom allows you to communicate with the MRI technologist. You need to lie as still as possible during the scan otherwise the images may be blurry and the scan may need to be repeated. Some MRI examinations require an injection of a special intravenous contrast or dye (called Gadolinium). This can provide additional detail on the MRI pictures and is usually injected into a small vein in the elbow. If you experience symptoms of claustrophobia or are unable to lie flat comfortably, mild oral sedation can be administered during the examination, in order to relax. After your scan, you will need to remain under observation for some time in order to recover from the sedation and you will need to be accompanied by someone who can drive you home. MRI is usually avoided in the first trimester of pregnancy unless there are special circumstances. Please notify us if you are pregnant or if you think you may be pregnant.