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Have degenerative changes in lumbar & cervical areas. MRI showed degree of heterogeneity in marrow signal through lumbar region. Meaning?

Jul 2013
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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement
Practicing since : 1996
Answered : 2148 Questions
nI am 62, have degenerative changes in lumbar & cervical areas. An MRI of lumbar findings stated the following: "There is a degree of heterogeneity in marrow signal through lumbar region, sacral and lower thoracic spine. This is nonspecific and maybe seen with relative hematopoietic marrow and/or possible degenerative/age related marrow changes. No acute compression fracture. No evidence of distinct infiltrative marrow replacement process"
This was ordered by a neurologist who never discussed the findings, as I was diagnosed with idiopathic polyneuropathy
What does it mean? Should I be concerned? I am mobile and do stretching exercises that seem to keep lumbar issues at bay so far. Do mild intensity exercise, so I am not incapacitated so far.
Posted Tue, 22 Oct 2013 in Women's Health
Answered by Dr. K. Naga Ravi Prasad 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
It means the bone marrow lacks uniformity.

Detailed Answer:
Hi, thanks for writing to XXXXXXX

Heterogeneity simply means that the bone marrow itself appears different that what normal bone marrow should look like on the MRI.

The heterogeneous means that there are areas which may appear to have changes in the bone marrow. For example, after injury or radiation to an area, the bone marrow can be replaced by fat causing the difference in appearance on the scan.

There are numerous causes for changes in the signal intensity in the marrow leading to heterogeneity which include Normal Variant of bone marrow, broken bones, Injury, Radiation, Bone marrow biopsies, Degenerative changes, Infection, Inflammation, Osteonecrosis and Bone tumours (myeloproliferative disorders) etc.

As you are not having any related symptomatology, your treating Neurophysician might have considered the findings as a Normal variant and might not have discussed anything about it. If you are concerned, discuss the issues with your treating physician.

Hope I have addressed your query.

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