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Just had MRI and do not understand what any of it means

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I was wondering if anyone would know what my MRI report is showing because I could not understand what the docotor was telling me.

Comment: The conus medullaris ends at the level of T12 vertebral body. The visualized portion of the spinal cord and the nerve roots are without mass or signal abnormality. The patient is status post bilateral laminectomy efects from L3-L4 level down to L4-L5 levels. There is mild congenital spinal stenosis in the mid lumbar spine. Bertebral bodis are normal in stature and in alignment. Mild disc desiccation is seen at L4-L5 level.

At L1-L2 level, minimal broad based posterior disc bulge is seen causing minimal compression of the thecal sac and mild bilateral neural foramina stenosis.

AtL2-L3 level, minimal broad-based posterior and lateral disc bulge is seen with bilteral facet joint hyperrtrophy. This is causing no compression of the thecal sac and mild to moderate bilateral neural foramina stenosis.

At L4-L5 level, mild broad-based posterior disc bulge is seen with focal central disc protrusion. Bilateral facet joint hypertrophy is seen. Combination of this finding is causing mild mass effect on the anterior portion of the thecal sac and severe bilateral foramina stenosis.

AtL5-S1- level, minimal broad-based posterior and lateral disc bulge is seen with mild bilateral facet joint hypertrophy. This is causing no compression of the thecal sac and moderate to severe bilateral neural foramina stenosis. Post contrast-enhanced images demonstrate mild enhancement of the posterior epidural space at the surgical site and around the bilateral L5 nerveroot within the spinal canal at L4-L5 level likely representing scar tissue.

Impression: Postsurgical changes with degenerative disc disease as described.

So if anyone could tell me what this means in a more simply way I would be so thank full.


  • It looks mostly like an average MRI. The changes in your spine could be based on partly on typical aging. Also, congenital issues mean it was pretty much always there. It wasn't based on any injuries or anything of the sort. Apparently you don't have any spondy issues. Many people have DDD at multiple levels and don't even know. So the significance of that is really based on your current state, pain, no pain, numbness, weakness, etc...

    Basically nothing that would cause any symptoms, most likely. Mild bulges and stenosis are very, very common. Most people don't even know they have any. It sounds like the only significant issue would be around L5, but it's not major unless you have severe symptoms that would warrant surgery or treatment. It sounds like the typical middle aged patient's MRI, with a possible need for future treatment where there is DDD. If it's asymptomatic, then sounds like your MRI is fine. If you do have symptoms, then it sounds like the only thing you will most likely hear from your doctor is the DDD. My best guess would be, if you do have the serious symptoms, not just pain that you can still live your normal life with, and it's limiting you, a fusion might be in your future. I'm not a doctor, but that's my thoughts and best guess based on my own knowledge and experience.

    It's really hard to say without knowing your background & what treatments you've had and what your symptoms are. That has a lot to do with post- treatment MRI results, and the significance of such. There isn't really one straight forward way to define the actual results... It's variable based on certain factors.

    Stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal. Bulges are just what they sound like. The disc nucleus is intact, and the annulus is also intact. Bulges generally heal themselves. Broad based just defines the position/angle/amount. It's generally a good length of the disc. Facet joints hypertrophy most likely means you have inflammation in that area. Disc desiccation is degenerative changes in the disc.

    If I had more time I'd try to offer some more info but I gotta go. Hope someone can offer you some more definitive suggestions.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842

    For a Spine-Health Site introduction, Click on :

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    Please feel free to contact me at rdilauro@gmail.com or send me a message
    Unfortunately we can not provide medical advice based on patient reports (MRI,CT Scans, EMG,etc) We are not formerly trained in these areas and could be doing you a grave injustice if we provided information that may be untrue or even hurtful.

    From what you have posted, it seems to be related to your lower part and not directly from you back spinal area. Whenever I read an MRI:

    Mild - Should be easy to treat
    Perhaps so home exercise (approved) and over the counter
    medications (again approved) could help

    Medium - Some problems, but with the help of some medications and form of formal exercise this should help

    Depending on where they are referring to, this could require attention. Just as in any situation, severe
    is not good

    You should always discuss your MRI reports with your doctors and let them decide the action plan.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • The dessication is a loss of water in the disc.
    Once they dry out, they never re-hydrate.

    Although there is ongoing experimentation.

    One procedure involves abrading the vertebral endplates above and below the affected disc.

    Another involves injecting stem cells into the disc.

    Also, there are websites where you can pay to have the report translated into laymen's terms.
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • I wouldn't pay to have it translated... Your doctor will do it for you if you bring it to them and have them read it to you.

    That's a pretty nifty experiment. Sounds interesting & useful!
  • Other things to consider:

    Give one MRI study to 10 different radiologists, and you could get 10 different opinions.

    Sometimes imaging studies don't show what is actually going on inside.

    Some surgeons don't care to read the report.
    Others really do.

    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
  • You could also ask your primary care to read it. BUT, the thing is, someone like a NEUROSURGEON has had extensive training, and CAN read it word for word. The opinions on treatment may differ from surgeon to surgeon, but any very knowledgeable Neurosurgeon could read you the results very accurately.
  • Hi

    Good info above.

    My neuro doctor in 1993 told me lots of folks have bulging discs with no symptoms.

    After all the tests the Dr was most interested in the fact that my left foot was numb and weak and he was particularly interested in my completely numb left big toe.

    I suppose each case is some different.

    Good Luck to you.

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