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MRIs and Back Pain

MRIs and Back Pain

MRIs and Back Pain
Transcript

For testing, it would be nice if we had biological markers that we could draw bloods on and say, ooh gee, this makes your diagnosis. And there are a few. Those are not so common rheumatologic, in other words, arthritic kinds and subgroups, that would be sort of too complex to talk about today because it's a very small but important part of back issues. But the long and short of it is is that we don't order a spine practitioner much in the way of blood work unless we're suspecting infection. But we do order a lot of testing, that's imaging wise. And one of the imaging tests is called MRI. MRI is a huge electromagnet that excites water molecules that then give off that energy. It's magnetic energy, it's picked up by detectors and a 3D image of that is then reconstructed, so things that don't have water in them don't show up very well on MRI, but since the human body is a large proportion made of water, then, gee, it shows up really pretty well. This is why it's so marvelous. It shows soft tissues really well. For years, we were stuck with something called CT computerized tomography. And by the way, MRI is magnetic resonance imaging. And just as an aside, it was originally called nuclear magnetic residence. And MR and the first studies that I saw were in MR images and they haven't changed in terms of what's done. It's just that when patients are nuclear, they thought, oh my gosh, I'm going to glow in the dark after this study, which isn't true at all. It had to do with the nucleus of the water molecules.

Doctor Profile

Kurt Schroeder, MD

Neurosurgeon

  • Certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery
  • Chief of Neurosurgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • Former Chief of Surgery at Tucson Medical Center

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