What shows in MRI examination of the cervical spine?

Many patients hospitals are asking about why is assigned an MRI of the cervical spine, which shows this method of examination of the body.

Diagnostics of the cervical spine on MRI

the Principle of operation of magnetic resonance imaging

Many diseases are related to this Department, directly or indirectly, as in the cervical spine connects the head with the body and are the centres of the regulation of the circulatory and respiratory systems. For the diagnosis of diseases, different methods are used: radiography, or Doppler. But if you suspect the development of the pathological process in the soft tissues is assigned to MRI as a type of research that can distinguish the smallest change.

When the apparatus is used for MRI magnetic field, which leads to an excited state of the hydrogen atoms in water. Between electromagnetic radiation and resonance occurs, then atoms are returned to normal. The resonance is transmitted to the computer, which allows you to see the whole picture of the disease. All changes are logged, creating a series of images of the area in which the study took place.

As a result MRI cervical vertebra takes an image of soft tissues, ligaments and cartilage, nerve structures and bones.

the shooting Direction of the MRI apparatus

Therefore, with the help of this method, you can assess the condition of all of these structures and to determine the presence of pathological processes.

For more precise indicators can be used contrast. It allows to assess the direction of blood vessels in the neck and find the places where the contrast in nerve formations.

The Main advantage of MRI is that this study provides the opportunity for challenging, narrow site to consider even twisted tissue and all the structures of the neck. These results do not give any kind of research. With the help of MRI can detect even the slightest change when the disease is at an early stage, and then time to take action and to find an effective treatment.

The safety of the procedure for the patient allows you to use it not once, but several times during the treatment, which is very important to monitor the development of serious diseases.

Indications and contraindications

The Cervical spine is one of the difficult areas for examination that comprises vertebrates, the nervous, muscular and vascular elements of the body. Diseases of these systems can cause a change of the human condition, and delays in treatment can have very serious consequences. But the symptoms can be similar. Therefore, accurate diagnosis is assigned an MRI of the neck.

Pain in the neck - indications for MRI

Indication for prescription of MRI of the head and neck are the following clinical condition:

  • pain in the cervical spine radiating into the arm, causing weakness or numbness of the limbs
  • development of diseases such as upper paraparesis or tetraparesis;
  • vertebral artery syndrome caused by steam narrowing of the vertebral artery, vertebrobasilar relating to the pool;
  • persistent headaches (or cephalgic syndrome) dizziness, appearance of hallucinations, impaired vision, frequent loss of balance;
  • the suspected herniation in the intervertebral Department;
  • is a suspicion of tumor development or compression of the spinal cord (as a result of the injury, stenosis or tumors)
  • tea
  • instability of the vertebrae in the neck
  • suspected multiple sclerosis;
  • to detect violations of the blood flow (for increased accuracy apply contrast) – change of vessel and its operation;
  • congenital anomalies of nervous system or bone development.

Structure of the cervical spine

MRI of the cervical spine is absolutely painless and safe procedure for the patient, however, has few contraindications, the main ones are:

  1. If in the body of a patient implanted devices with metal parts.
  2. the Presence of implanted metal.
  3. the presence of the vessels installed metal clips.
  4. tattoos made with metallic paints.
  5. the patient has implanted devices and structures that do not contain metal, for example a stent, pump, or a pacemaker. The final decision on the MRI taken by the doctor.
  6. Not recommended to undergo MRI of the neck in the early stages of pregnancy and during breastfeeding, the decision to conduct studies is taken by the doctor.

When the research uses a closed machine, it will be contraindications related to the characteristics of the patient, for example, is not allowed to do a strong MRI with claustrophobia or large weightperson.

The Study is contraindicated in severe arrhythmia when the patient cannot long retain one position of the body.


MRI of the cervical spine takes place in the office, providing the most comfortable patient environment. Before undergoing MRI, the patient should remove all jewelry and other metal objects: piercing, watches, dentures.

Use contrast with MRI-diagnosis

Then the patient lies on a movable table, his body fixed with belts to avoid unnecessary mobility. On the table the patient must feel comfortable, because during the study you lie still. So if you are experiencing discomfort, should inform the staff before the procedure. In this case, will help to adopt a comfortable position or to change the tension of the belt. During the study the patient should be relaxed, his breathing even and calm. Therefore, convenience should be taken care of in advance.

If the patient experiences discomfort in an enclosed space, the physician may permit the presence during the study of native or someone from friends. If the study cannot calm down, you need to immediately tell the doctor. Either he will "bounce back" or will prescribe a sedative.

Then the table is moved into the annular portion of the MRI scanner where the patient is and will be throughout the procedure. For a comfortable stay, the cabin is equipped with a fan and lighting. During the study, it is possible to hear small noise: it shows the operation of the apparatus, so frightened it is not necessary. All of the modern apparatus for MRI has a connection device, with which if necessary it is possible to contact the physician conducting the study.

If the procedure does not require intravenous contrast, the study allowed to drink and eat. The medication is allowed. But if the MRI took place with the use of contrast agents, before the medications you need to wait.

Diet before the examination on an MRI with contrast

The Gap depends on the type of contrast medium administration:

  • with the introduction of intravenous contrast – up to 3 days;
  • with the introduction of contrast into the spinal canal – to a week.

The Entire MRI procedure takes less than an hour, but the duration depends on the type of the study: angiography (with contrast) – up to 1 hour. If you do not use a contrast medium, MRI study lasts only about 30 minutes.

After the completion of the study, the patient receives a printed images of the cervical and immediately can go home.

That shows cervical MRI?

The Result of this research is several photos of the cervical spine. By the pictures you can easily determine the status of the intervertebral discs, vertebrae and joints, spinal cord. Visible tumors and various tissue damage, changing position formations. Because soft tissue contains more water which the atoms interact with an electromagnetic pulse, these parts is best seen on the scans.

Diagnosis of diseases of the vertebrae of the cervical spine on MRI

Modern apparatus for MRI allow us to get not only step-by-step pictures, but image in the three-dimensional projection that gives the opportunity to get the most accurate picture, to establish violations and their causes.

The Results are printed on paper or copied to an electronic medium. If desired, the patient is given the opportunity to get MRI results by email.

Your doctor may decrypt the received data in about an hour. Then he makes the description and records the findings. In connection with patient treatment. In some cases, for example, when the disease below, are assigned additional studies: MRI of the thoracic and lumbar.

The Images are attached to the doctor – in the future when visiting other specialists will need to provide their opinion.

Which is evident in the fracture and the tumor?

The Result of cervical MRI of a healthy person shows a smooth vertebrae, uniform size of the intervertebral discs. On the joints of the vertebrae are absent in the roughness. All patterns are symmetrical, their position is correct. On a picture you can easily identify the structure of the bone marrow. Nerves to exit without any obstacles. In General, any process like inflammation, tumors, defects and tumors is not observed.

If a broken arch or the vertebral body, the picture will show the line of fracture with displaced fragments, and vertebrae may be deformed.

the device of the MRI apparatus

Under pathological fracture displacement is not observed, since this type of fracture is a compression. At this point the MRI will show changes of bone tissue (osteoporosis) and a variety of education.

MRI is not effective enough for traumatic fractures – in this case, it is more suitable for radiography. The procedure is much more effective if the fracture is pathological. Using research to determine the cause of the fracture and the bone marrow.

Metastases, tumors appearin the form of space-occupying lesions. It is usually located in the membranes of the spinal cord or vertebrae. Sometimes tumors can be associated with the nerves or surrounding tissues. The growth of the tumor may be accompanied by compression of the spinal cord and lead to its destruction.

What is detected with a hernia and myelomalacia?

With a hernia have decreased height of the intervertebral disc. The edge can deform, taking an arcuate shape. The outer shell is broken, and through its defects may make the contents of the nucleus. Depending on the type of herniated disc the location may be different:

  1. Lateral, that is, at the posterolateral location can impinge on a spinal nerve that passes nearby. As a result, you may experience soldering nerve with adjacent structures or the hernia, and displacement (deviation), adhesion, compression.
  2. Rear-mid will cause a narrowing of the spinal canal that is displayed in the picture in the form of irregularities on the spinal cord.

A Hernia is often accompanied by degeneration of the vertebrae due to degenerative disc disease. Under this condition, expand the edges of the vertebrae, they also found irregularities, spikes or protrusions that extend to other vertebrae. There is a nerve compression; hole, through which passes the output of roots, markedly narrowed.

Computed tomography allows you to see the processes of development of such diseases as multiple sclerosis. With MRI you can see lesions of the disease in the nervous system. From normal nerve tissue foci differ primarily by the intensity of the signal. In the picture they will be seen as black and white spots. To improve the accuracy of the study, contrasting the drug is used, it usually Guidoni. The accumulation of contrast allow you to see the affected areas where there is inflammation.

As a result of soft tissue injuries may develop myelomalacia – tissue changes. At the injury site swelling at first, which eventually turns into necrosis. At the next stage there is a kind of scarring: dead cells are replaced by glial.

In the picture the affected areas clear. Sometimes when damage to the spinal canal observed deformation of its walls. When heart attack in the first days method may not show the changes.