How your orthopedic doctor in Phoenix, Arizona, may use an MRI to diagnose spine pain

Patients in Phoenix dealing with chronic neck or back pain may receive an MRI from their orthopedic doctor as part of the diagnostic process. An MRI, which stands for magnetic resonance imaging, is a type of noninvasive imaging scan that uses powerful magnetic waves to create detailed images of the body’s internal structures.

It differs from other imaging scans such as X-rays in that it shows water-containing structures like spinal discs, ligaments and other soft tissues of the spine, in addition to nerves. MRIs do not involve radiation, in contrast to X-rays and CT (computed tomography) scans. The ability to view soft tissue makes MRIs especially useful for diagnosing spinal conditions such as herniated discs, bulging discs, spinal stenosis and spinal nerve compression.

What can I expect during my MRI scan?

Although a painless and noninvasive procedure, an MRI can be intimidating for some patients because large equipment is used. Additionally, patients will be enclosed within the equipment for a short period of time. If you are claustrophobic, be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns and how the radiologists and technicians can make your experience more comfortable. You may also be able to receive an open MRI scan, which can help with feelings of claustrophobia. Your orthopedic doctor may refer you to an outpatient radiology center elsewhere in the Phoenix area for your MRI.

When you undergo an MRI, it typically involves the following steps:

  • You will be asked to wear a hospital gown and earplugs
  • In some cases you may also receive an injection beforehand of a nontoxic dye that helps to enhance the image that the MRI produces
  • An MRI technologist will help you to recline on a table that will move into the MRI machine.
  • The technologist will leave the room and go into a separate enclosed space to control the scan; an intercom system will allow you to talk to the technologist throughout the procedure.

Scan times may vary, but will usually not take any longer than 20 to 40 minutes.

Your MRI or CT scan review at Laser Spine Institute

If you are diagnosed with a degenerative spine condition and your doctor has suggested surgery because conservative treatments have been exhausted, it is important to learn about the full range of options available to you. At Laser Spine Institute, we provide minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that has helped more than 75,000 people find relief from neck and back pain and is an alternative to more invasive traditional open back surgery.

For patients in the Phoenix area, we have a state-of-the-art outpatient facility located in nearby Scottsdale. To learn more and find out if you are a potential candidate for our procedures, contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*