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Results of MRI...v. worried and need advice :(

kissiffer4kkissiffer4 Posts: 3
edited 01/25/2014 - 7:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery

I have been in considerable pain for the past couple of weeks with left radiculopathy. My doctor sent me for an MRI and I got the results back. I am Male, 37 and with a couple of young kids absolutely terrified about the prospect of surgery . Currently, the pain has actually dissipated a bit in the past week, but I have very little strength in my left triceps.

I did see a neuro surgeon and he did a few strength tests on my left arm. I did ok with a couple of them, but he did one where he pushed against my forearm and I had absolutely no strength or resistance at all. His recommendation was a partial discectomy on C7.

So...I am just pretty scared at this point about surgery. Part of me wonders if I just leave it or go and see a chiropractor again, will it get better by itself? The neuro surgeon felt that it would probably get worse with the potential of permanent damage if I didn't have the partial discectomy.

Any feedback really would be much appreciated, because I am pretty terrified and sad right now. Here are the MRI results:

C2-3: Negative

C3-4: Negative

C4-5: Negative

C5-6: Posterior osteophyte disc complex is demonstrated. Mild central stenosis is noted. Severe bilateral foraminal narrowing is present, greater on the left.

C6-7: Spondylitic changes are present. Posterior osteophyte-disc complex is noted. A left paramedian disc protrustion is present.

C7:T1: Negative


1. Spondylitic change at C5-6. Mild central stenosis is noted. Severe bilateral foraminal narrowing is present.

2. Posterior osteophyte disc complex at C6-7 with small left paramedian protrusion noted.

Thanks everyone. I am going with the assumption that surgery is going to be necessary, but is it as scary as I imagine it to be and might these problems be resolved with it?





  • Annie-mAAnnie-m Posts: 108
    edited 01/25/2014 - 7:37 AM
    This link really helped explain things for me


    Link removed, not permitted.Please read the Forum rules
    Post Edited by Liz The Spine-Health Moderator Team
    ALIF April 2011 but it turns out I broke before it barely fused.
    L4-L5 posterior fusion December 2013
  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
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  • The rule of thumb for MRIs is to look for the terms 'mild,' 'moderate,' and 'severe.' Where you see 'severe' surgery is generally recommended as conservative approaches are unlikely to have an impact.

    With your condition, you wish to avoid permanent nerve damage in your left arm. The surgery that is recommended is minimally invasive. I would get a second opinion, but personally would take the advice of the neurosurgeon and get the operation out of the way.
  • Thanks GOLSF :) One quick question. I noticed the severe comment was related to the C5-6 nerve. The neuro surgeon said he only intends to work on the C6-C7 nerve, which had the following in the MRI:

    "Posterior osteophyte disc complex at C6-7 with small left paramedian protrusion noted."

    Is it strange that he isn't going to be doing anything at C5-C6?

    Thanks again for the feedback :)
  • That us an excellent question to ask, but it must be directed to a medical professional. My cousin, who is a GP, was very helpful at interpreting my MRI. I encourage you to find the best available neurosurgeon in your area, let them know you've been advised to pursue surgery and are seeking another opinion.
  • A little update..I have surgery booked for Feb 5th :) GOLSF, I did ask the NS's nurse about C5-C6 "Severe bilateral foraminal narrowing is present, greater on the left" and she said he only found that there was a problem at C6-C7, which is where he will be doing a posterior microdiscectomy. He found the problem with C7 during the exam when he tested my triceps strength in my left arm and I had zero resistance.

    So...I am pretty tense and nervous at the moment, but glad all the same that I have a date for surgery :)
  • I hope you find much relief from the surgery!

    I do highly recommend getting a second opinion. Before my ACDF, I visited with two surgeons, one a Neurosurgeon, and one an Osteopathic surgeon. I also visited with a somewhat renowned Ortho MD who advocates non surgical approaches whenever possible.

    Your NS's nurse's explanation makes no sense to me. That said, I am not a surgeon.

    BTW, I ended up going with the Neurosurgeon who worked at a much smaller hospital than the first surgeon I met. I felt immediately comfortable with the NS and believe I made the right choice.
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