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Different MRIs, Different Results?

LumpyLLumpy Posts: 103
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I went to my regular Neurologist and got an MRI when I first started having neck pain and arm pain about a month ago. Then I went to the Worker’s Comp insurance appointed image center for another MRI last week. I, the amateur, looked at both sets of images and saw just a little difference. The WC MRI showed my C6C7 bulge was slightly larger and pushing more toward the cord. Remember, Amateur. I have an appointment with my NS to review it next week.

Here is the odd thing to me. I got a copy of the WC MRI report and it is almost contradictory to the previous MRI and report. It seems pretty subjective and, according to it, I have no disc degeneration, osteophytes, hypertrophy, etc. The original MRI showed some of all of those nice things. AND the disc dehydration (desiccation) has disappeared. Apparently my disks have been miraculously rehydrated and my vertebra degeneration has regenerated? The disks are as black as ever on the MRI, unlike the T1, T2 vertebra which show a healthy light middle. Amazing or amusing?

And the WC MRI report calls the herniated disc “minimal”, where the original calls it “Medium sized broad based central protrusion with associated posterior osteophytes partially obliterating anterior subarachnoid space.”

Maybe this is just an example of the vague, subjective terminology used by different radiologists that is a pet peeve of mine. Maybe it is a complete contradiction or misread. I will find out next week when I talk to my NS, who, by the way, looked at my original MRI and concurred with its findings. If it is indeed good news, I’ll take it.

As far as my condition, pain is better if I stay away from certain positions and I feel pretty positive right now. Arm pain is better, but I am still loosing dexterity in my hands by the day and still feeling some tingling and pain.

Sorry for the long post :)

Wayne (AKA Lumpy)


  • Hey Wayne,

    I am not sure but I know there is definitely a difference in the way different radiologist describe things. For example i see many post here where a bulge or protrusion is described in MM when I questioned my surgeon about that he said it is not really used where I live. Another thing I get nervous is the work comp radiologist unless it is obvious I don't think they do those images justice. Now since you have no issues with the NS your good to go, But I have told others if they suspect something isn't right with work comp to get a independent radiologist to read the films. Although my experience the surgeon hasn't wanted the radiologist report but just the images. He makes his/her own decision on what he/she see's. My surgeons says it is just a formality to him, but he makes his own assessment don't know if that is good or bad, but so far it has worked out for myself.
  • To add onto what TamTam has said as well as your own conclusions, depending on the reference point that the technician started at and how thick the slices are, can change the "look" of an MRI.

    Well the good thing is that you already know that your NS will read the films himself and not rely on the report.

    Keep us posted.

  • Thanks for the replies, Tam and C. Its good to know that there have been other discussions about the quality of the WC MRIs. I hate to think of it that way, but I guess it happens.

    I hope the NS can look at the images and come to a good conclusion about them. BUT, even more, I hope for an accurate conclusion. That's the only one that will lead to any long term help.

    Next Tuesday should provide me with some answers from my NS. I'll keep you posted.
  • I like my Doc. He is patient to answer all my questions and is willing to explain every bump and bulge on my MRIs to me. Good doctor :).

    I went today with the MRI CD in hand. He already had a copy of the report. He took one look at it and said something to the extent of, "I have no idea what this guy is looking at. Its obvious on the MRI." He quizzed me about where the MRI was taken. I could tell he was making a mental note on that one. So I do feel a little better about that part.

    Now on with the real work of isolating the real issues and planning the best next step.

    I am supposed to get an EMG and see where that leads. This time I am getting my NS office to pick the best place to have it done.

    PS: Its a shame to have to fight the health issues and worry about the people treating you all at the same time.
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