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MRI shows dessication with vacuum disc, disc bulge. What does this mean and is it serious for surgery?

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Spine Surgeon
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 102 Questions
My MRI narrativeof 2011 says: L5/S1 Desiccation is present with vacuum disc phenomenon. A circumferential diffuse disc bulge is seen with hypertrophic and plate changes. This encroaches upon the S1 nerve roots bilaterally and narrows the neural foramen bilaterally.

What does this mean and is it serious enough for surgery. My symptoms are leg heaviness, leg & buttocks & feet numbness, spasticity in my walk, slurred speach, weakness in legs & arms, loss of hand dexterity,clonus in right arm, some intermittent pain in right leg and incontinence. I have a current diagnosis of Spinal Stenosis with myelopothy. I had an AFDC at C4-5 in 2005 with 60% improvement (At that time my symptoms were leg weakness, spasticity and numbness). In the following years the symptoms returned with a few others so I had a second AFDC at C3-4 in 2011 with no improvement.
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Stroke
Answered by Dr. Krishna Kumar 9 hours later

Thank you for sharing your problem with me.

All your symptoms are that of myelopathy; in addition you have disc degeneration at L5 S1.

I think addressing L5 S1 disc problem may not result in much improvement of your symptoms. Surgery may not show good results.

The MRI features are suggestive of disc degeneration with bony changes, which is quite common at the age of 60.

Thank you
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