Magnetic Resonance Imaging has revolutionized the understanding and treatment of the spine.
The procedure is harmless and painless. The only problems are the expense and the need to lie still for the duration of the scan. The patient must lie partly or wholly within a cylinder shaped magnet which temporarily shifts the body’s electrons. The magnet is then turned off and as the electrons flip back into their normal position, they give off a radio signal which is picked up by the scanner. As each tissue has different characteristics, it will give off a different signal which allows the machine to show the image. The MRI scanner is particularly useful in imaging the spine.