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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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What does the following MRI result indicate?

Answered by
Dr. Olsi Taka


Practicing since :2004

Answered : 3601 Questions

Posted on Tue, 4 Apr 2017 in Brain and Spine
Question: Please explain these MRI results in layman's terms. No follow-up has been suggested, should I be concerned?

293 lbs.; sedentary office worker. I don't know if any of these are related, but current symptoms are position-related headaches at left base of skull to left crown; constant dull neck pain w/occasional mobility limiting sharp pain; occasional burning sensation over right upper back, and right upper arm pain to elbow. Recent episode of severe vertigo, lasting about 20 minutes; not repeated since.

Cervical Spine: There is loss of the normal cervical lordosis. Vertebral body heights are maintained. Diffuse low T1 signal which could be related to changes of chronic anemia. There is thickening of the posterior longitudinal ligament at the level
of C6 which contacts the anterior margin of the spinal cord without impingement. There is no abnormal cord signal.

Evaluation of disc levels as follows:
C2-3: Unremarkable.

C3-4: Broad-based disc protrusion without thecal sac stenosis.

C4-5: Mild bilateral uncovertebral and left facet hypertrophy without foraminal thecal sac stenosis.

C5-6: Facet and uncovertebral arthrosis causing mild to moderate bilateral foraminal narrowing.

C6-7: Facet and uncovertebral arthrosis cause mild bilateral foraminal narrowing.
Answered by Dr. Olsi Taka 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
Degenerative spine disease.

Detailed Answer:
I read your question carefully and I understand your concern.

That report speaks of chronic degenerative changes of the spine involving several levels. Over the years our spines due to the wear and tear do slowly undergo degenerative changes. These changes are in the form of disc bulges, thickened ligaments, bony spurs (osteophytes), arthritis etc. What the MRI aims to identify is whether these changes cause narrowing of the spinal canal (where spinal cord passes) or the foramina (the canals which nerve roots transverse to exit the spine) which in turn lead to compression of the spinal cord or of the nerve roots.

So at C3-4 there is a bulging disc but it doesn't narrow the spinal canal.

At C4-5 there is a thickening of the facets, the joining points between the vertebrae, but it is mild and doesn't lead to narrowing of the canal or foramina, so no compression.

At C5-6 again there is a similar finding of inflammatory changes of the facets. It does cause some narrowing but not severe, shouldn't be compressing the nerve roots

At C6-7 basically the same finding of inflammatory changes causing only mild narrowing.

Loss of lordosis and thickening of the ligament are again a common finding in degenerative spine changes.

So in conclusion I would say that those changes are not severe, in a way they were to be expected in someone who has had the lumbar spine issues you've had (part of the same chronic degenerative process). They do not need surgery or any invasive intervention, only physical therapy and anti-inflammatory over the counter pain killers like Ibuprofen when needed. They do justify the pains you describe.

I remain at your disposal for other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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