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Have back problem. MRI showed abnormally low bone marrow signal diffusely at all levels. What does this mean?

Feb 2014
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Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 5931 Questions
I got an MRI of my thoracic spine to check for degenerative changes. i am 24 an have had back problems for about 5 years. my mri says "abnormally low bone marrow signal diffusely at all levels. and they said i have a cyst on my kidney. in impressions it says cant rule out marrow infiltrative. my doctor says i need to be referred to hematologist. but i am in my home town for two weeks so i didnt get much info so i just want to know what all this can mean
Posted Sat, 24 Nov 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Saurabh Gupta 2 hours later

Thanks for posting your query.

I have read the details submitted with diligence. The MRI findings reported concerns me.

Abnormal bone marrow signal are associated with either metastatic disease from solid primary tumour or hematological disorders like leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma.

- Metastatic disease from solid primary malignancy show focal pattern consisting of localized area of abnormal marrow.
- While leukemia reveal a diffuse pattern of abnormal marrow on MRI.

You will need further tests consisting of blood test and plasma cell profile in consultation with a competent hematologist to rule out hematological disorders. Please consult the referred doctor or a competent hematologist back at home.

Let me know if you have more concerns, I will be please to help you.

Good luck!!!
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have back problem. MRI showed abnormally low bone marrow signal diffusely at all levels. What does this mean? 16 days later
So I went to my Rheumatology doctor and she called another radiologiest and he said it could be normal for me to have abnormal low bone marrow diffuse signal. because of my age, because i might have more red plasma. but i dont know if i am just not understanding or what because it says i am low which relates to anemia it doesnt says i have to much. which i have signs that are associated with anemia. because i get really short of breath my wiping down a patient bed. just wondering if you know anything about the red marrow being there that would make my marrow look abnormal. i just got bllod drawn and chest xray no results yet
Answered by Dr. Saurabh Gupta 17 hours later
Thanks for posting your query again.

Physiologic demand for more mature blood cells (especially red blood cells) beyond the body's normal capacity to produce them acts to reverse the normal pattern of conversion of red marrow to yellow marrow. This stimulated growth of hematopoietically active marrow increases the visibility of red marrow in the axial and appendicular skeleton. This process is referred to as reconversion .

This increase physiological demand for red blood cells is might be due to anemia in your case.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if you have any more concerns.

Wishing you good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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