Get your Health question answered in 3 easy steps
A Doctor will be with you shortly
Ask a Doctor Now
140 Doctors are Online

What type of scan would be ideal for diagnosis of bulging disc?

User rating for this question
Very Good
Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 299 Questions
Can a patient go for an X-ray or PET scan, instead of an MRI, to diagnose a bulging disc? If so, what are benefits of both over MRI?
Posted Mon, 23 Apr 2012 in X-ray, Lab tests and Scans
Answered by Dr. Vidya Muralidhar 1 hour later
Thanks for your query

I would first want to describe in brief about each of the tests you mentioned :

1. PET SCAN: this is known as positron emission tomography which is a test of imaging which uses a radioactive substance called a tracer to look for the changes in the body. It is an invasive test and needs an agent to be injected in to the veins and the substance will travel through blood to reach the organs

While MRI AND CT scans show the nature , structure and blood flow in the body , this PET scan will reveal the function of the prgan systems in the body.

It is widely used for detecting brain function , detecting cancers , how far the cancer has spread , to check if it is cured after treatment and to check for poor blood flow to heart.

A PET scan involves the exposure to radiation , but is very minimal and very rarely allergies in the form of itching , rashes , swelling ,etc may develop due to invasive substance injected

Coming to an X XXXXXXX : they are a form of electro magnetic radiation, they use particles called photons for the test . X XXXXXXX utilizes minimal radiation and used for filming the bones and joints widely , but an x XXXXXXX cannot pick up soft tissue changes and ligamental or disc changes closely.

MRI: This is Magnetic resonance imaging , which involves no use of any radiation , and is best for changes in the spine , study of soft tissue and disc changes , so far MRI has been the only test which is ordered by doctors by and large to study the disc changes and confirm a disc prolapse, bulging , or soft tissue changes , etc MRI being non invasive and there is no agent injected for study , is free from any risks including risks of radiation and allergy.

Hence I would want to say that while an x XXXXXXX and CT scan cannot detect disc abnormalities but can only see a bony change , and are used for back pain other than disc related causes , MRI is still the best test for disc problems.

I would also want to add that the diagnosis of a disc prolapse is based on clinical examination and co relation with MRI reports and MRI alone is not the ultimatum for diagnosis.

I hope I answered your question, I would be available for follow up questions as well
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Question is related to
Diseases and Conditions

The user accepted the expert's answer

Ask a Radiologist

© Ebix, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All the information, content and live chat provided on the site is intended to be for informational purposes only, and not a substitute for professional or medical advice. You should always speak with your doctor before you follow anything that you read on this website. Any health question asked on this site will be visible to the people who browse this site. Hence, the user assumes the responsibility not to divulge any personally identifiable information in the question. Use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions
Already Rated.
Your rating:

Ask a Doctor