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Don't Understand Severity of MRI


My name is Jonathan and I am 21 years old. I constantly browse the forums and now that I have my MRI results I decided I'd join. I don't really understand my MRI results, I would really appreciate if someone could help translate what they really mean since my doctor doesn't seem to think my MRI results are important due to me being so young. He suggested 3 injections and Norco 10/325 3 times daily as needed as well as 4mg of Zanaflex twice a day. Some background information, I was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, I have had 68 shunt revisions (brain surgeries) 66 of them within the past 3 to 4 years. Recently, I've been suffering from middle to lower back pain down through my legs. The pain I suffer is a sharp throbbing pain that never seems to go away. I get really bad cramps or muscle spasms in my back and legs. Specifically in my legs I also get numbness and tingling at times.

Findings: the study was performed on a open magnet and is compromised by the low field strength.

Normal lumbar lordosis is maintened. Spinal dysraphism of L5 and the sacrum is noted. Normal marrow signal is seen within the lumbosacral vertebra.

Incidental note is made of Schmorl's nodes at the L1-L2, T12-L1 and T11-T12 levels.

There is a broad-based posterior disc bulge at L1-L2, greater the right than the left, with a suggestion of slight impingement on the exiting right nerve root at this level.

At L2-L3 there is normal disc signal intensity and disc height without evidence of significant disc bulge or herniation. There is no spinal or neural foraminal stenosis.

At L3-L4 there is a minimal broad-based posterior disc bulge without evidence of significant spinal or neural foraminal stenosis.

At L4-L5 there is some loss of normal disc height and signal intensity. There is a central posterior disc bulge no evidence of significant spinal or neural foraminal stenosis.

At L5-S1 there is no significant spinal or neural foraminal stenosis.

The distal spinal cord is small in caliber and is abnormally low in position, extending to approximately the L3 level.

There is a fluid filled dilated portion of the thecal sac in this patient with prior meningocele repair which extends through the posterior spinal defect. It measures 4.8cm superior to inferior x 4.3cm AP x 2.5cm transverse. Unremarkable appearing distal nerve roots are visualized within the dilated distal thecal sac. No intrathecal lipoma or neural placode tissue is visualized.


Spinal dysraphism as described above.

Low lying cord extends to L3 level.

Suggestion of impingement on the exiting right nerve root at L1-L2 due to an asymmetric posterior disc bulge.

Multiple level Schmorl's nodes.


  • Since no one else has responded I will. As far as the results of your MRI, no one here is qualified to "translate what they really mean". That is something best done by a professional. If you have questions, you should address those with your doctor. There is nothing wrong w/asking your doctor to explain the results to you.
  • ;;professional comments all I can say from a patient's point of view and 17 years of experience ,is that you do have a few spinal abnormalities ,some may not be going you any pain and some will ..in my opinion ..be very careful regarding surgery and get at least 3 opinions ,try to keep away from fusions they are hell to recover from and very invasive .your consultant will translate your MRI findings for you
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • edited 05/31/2013 - 10:11 PM
    Thanks for the reply I really appreciate it, I was starting to worry that I may have posted in the wrong place. I figured my question would be pretty difficult. I asked my doctor many questions but he only pointed out disc bulges throughout my lumbar spine. Once I asked for a copy of the results and did a Google search of a few terms I basically discovered that Schmorl's Nodes are disc herniations which I happen to have in my T-Spine and Lumbar spine. I was curious as to if anyone had MRI results similar to mine and if they did what were they feeling, did they require surgery or what are they doing for the pain? My pain doesn't seem to go away, I'm taking two medications that my pain management doctor who I just started seeing prescribed me. One is called Hydrocodone 10/325 (Norco) 3 times per day as needed and Zanaflex 4mg twice daily for muscle spasms. They do help but they don't fully bring my pain below a 5 though. My doctor prescribed Gabapentin (Neurontin) 300mg once a day at bedtime, I took my first pill last night. I had no pain relief whatsoever and I didn't like how it made me feel (anxious and insomnia) so I don't think I'll continue it anymore. Hopefully this leads to more people responding and giving me their personal opinions.
  • Sorry I could not help w/the MRI. When I read you just started seeing your PM in you second post I realized how it was similar to how I started out w/my PM. I can tell you that my PM has been very helpful to me. When I first met him I did not have much hope and had my doubts that he could or would do much. I was so wrong. He has proved to be extremely helpful and very knowledgeable. It took me a while to realize how lucky I was to be referred to him. He started treating me in much the same way you mentioned, injections and a combination of medications. The first injection was so painful that I was afraid to try the second one. After having no relief from the either injection he said no use in trying any more. Years later he told me that he wanted to try the injections again, but in a different location. I have learned to trust him so I said OK. I am glad I let him do it because it helped. My medication combination was similar also (pain med, muscle relaxer, and nerve med). We have had to try different meds and doses. It took some time to find the right combination. I tell you this because I want you to know that things can improve, but it may take some time. I hope your PM turns out to be as helpful to you as mine has been.
  • I am so sorry youngpatient, it is against the rules here to ask for anyone opinion on x-rays, MRI's or any other kind of diagnositic advice....
  • FactoryRat, about MRI it's okay, I'll just have to ask my doctor more questions. To be honest, I feel as if my PM situation is very similar to yours, as of right now the few weeks I've known her she seems to be very understanding and caring. The funny thing is I started Pain Management by accident I would say. I moved in October and one day a few months ago when my pain started it was so unbearable I decided to go to the local emergency and when asked who my primary care doctor was I said I currently do not have one thats when the ER doctor recommended my current PCP. For the most part my PCP seems to be caring its just my young age that probably scares him. On my second visit he had me sign a narcotic medication contract which I was perfectly fine with and had been following it perfectly, but the following visit about a month ago he said he didn't do narcotic medication prescriptions to young patients that were "doctor shopping" so he reffered me to pain management. Thanks to that referral it's what basically got the ball moving for me, my PCP had ordered an MRI of my cervical spine even though I had specifically mentioned I was having lower back pain through my legs. Either way it turned out I had cervical stenosis most prominent in C1-C2 so I guess that mix up was good since it explained a few upper body issues and neck pains. But the PM doctor on my first visit was very smart in ordering a lumbar spine MRI, and very understanding in managing my pain since I told her my doctor no longer refilled my pain medicine. She went ahead and wrote me a month supply for the Norco and Zanaflex. In my last appointment (Thursday) she upped the amount of Norco from 2 up to 3 times and in total 90 pills, the Zanaflex stayed the same. I can't have the injections for a few weeks since I keep having infections and having an infection when injecting the spine could be potentially dangerous? Thanks for giving me great insight though I really appreciate it, I have better understanding as to what to expect.
  • Kiki48 said:
    I am so sorry youngpatient, it is against the rules here to ask for anyone opinion on x-rays, MRI's or any other kind of diagnositic advice....
    Thank you so much, I wasn't even aware it was against the rules. I am very sorry I did not intend to purposely go against site policy.
  • own experience on Spine Health...I'm not a moderator. I know you have no intention going against the rules or policy. Nor did I. You are very sweet and I know you are looking for solutions.. I know...I've been there on here and I want you to get the best advice possible.

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