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Reading MRI reports

dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,839
edited 08/15/2015 - 12:44 PM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
So many times people post their MRI Reports and ask people what this really means.
WARNING reading and interpreting of MRI reports by any member here HAS to be viewed as coming from ONLY untrained individuals or from personal experiences. You SHOULD never take what members here say as the formal medical review and diagnosis of your MRI

That being said. There are a few keywords that can be applied to any MRI report.

Mild Ok, you have some discomfort, could get worse, nothing that needs immediate attention.

Medium Ok, things are not looking all that great, probably something that needs attention soon, cant let it go because it can get more severe. Surgery?? Not sure

Severe Ok, NOT good. Will need attention. Do not let this one go, you will only be in pain.

Small tear Ok, minor tear in the disc material, start of problems. Address things like this now before it gets worse. Many times you will hear the term:
paracentral - which can be left or right

WARNING These are NOT formal medication defintions,just something to consider when looking at any MRI. Please REMEMBER to ALWAYS consult a doctor when you need the facts.
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


  • would someone let me know what my mri report means.at c5-6 there is a left paracentral mass consistent with focal disc protrusion or extrusion.mild mass effect upon anterolateral aspect of thecal sac on the left.moderate compromise of left lateral recess and proximal left neural foramen.diffuse disc bulge with small posterior vertebal body spurs also noted at this level.at c4-5 there is minimal diffuse disc bulge.minimal to mild narrowing of left neural foramen.small area of signal change superior endplate c6 vertebral body is most likely a schmorls node.
  • RDMDY you need to talk to your doctor about the report. It could mean alot or it could mean nothing. Doctors care more about what you are feeling that what the report shows. We all have some spine problems just from living. In general if it don't hurt they don't do anything. Of course there are some exceptions but in my experience you are better off describing what you feel and then having the doctor explain what the report means. Otherwise we tend to make our symptoms equal the results.

    Good Luck,
  • Are MRI reports written from patients point of view or the doctors in regard to left and right...? Herniated disk to the left meaning patients left or the doctors left when standing in front of patient?
  • Is always written in terms of the patient... so the "right" is the patient's right.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • Like All Metal posted....rt. is rt. on the patient, and lt. is left. We are trained to use lead markers on films to mark the correct side of the patient we are imaging. Also, the machines, CT and MRI, etc. are set up so the tech. tells it if you are putting the patient in feet first or head first...all a system of double checks, triple checks! That is also why we ask you your name, date of birth, etc...soooo many times!! Even on plain x-rays, we are trained to ask the patient several questions to make sure we image the correct side, etc!! Also, the radiologist knows what type of landmarks when they see it on films. So All Metal again said it a lot simpler than myself!! But yes, when the dr. tells you on a report that it is on the left, it is your left!!
    radtechtam MIS L4-5 Fusion
  • PelmelPPelmel Posts: 1
    edited 08/15/2015 - 6:42 AM
    Multilevel spondylotic changes as follows.

    L1-L2: There is an annular fissure and diffuse disc bulge resulting in no significant neural foraminal narrowing or spinal canal stenosis.

    L2-L3: There is a right paracentral annular fissure and broad-based disc protrusion eccentric to the right as well as some facet arthrosis and ligamentum flavum thickening resulting in mild right neural foraminal narrowing. There is no significant stenosis at this level.

    L3-L4: Disc bulge, ligamentum flavum thickening and facet arthrosis resulting in mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing. There is no significant stenosis at this level.

    L4-L5: There is left paracentral annular fissure and diffuse disc bulge as well as ligamentum flavum thickening and facet arthrosis resulting in mild-to-moderate left and mild right neural foraminal narrowing. There is mild canal stenosis at this level.

    L5-S1: There is a disc bulge, facet arthrosis and ligamentum flavum thickening. There is mild-to-moderate bilatwral neural foraminal narrowing. There is no significant canal stenosis at this level.

    l Impression: Multilevel degenerative spondylotic changes most pronounced at the right aspect of the superior endplate of L5 where there are modic-type-1 degenerative changes. otherwise, there is no significant neural foraminal or spinal canal stenosis noted throughout the lumbar spine.

    I don't know what all this means but I do know that I am in debilitating pain. I also have scoliosis and khyphoscoliosis with nauseating thoracic pain, a hump in my back, excrutiating pain down my legs and inability to walk without pain, aching and throbbing.
    I have a really high pain tolerance but I am experiencing so much pain that it prevents me from any kind of a normal life. I have always been very strong and physically fit and active. I did the physical therapy thing and that helped slightly when I was in traction. I want to know if any surgery could help. I live in a small town so would have to travel for surgery. There is no one here really even to qualify reading and explaining this to me. Hoping I could find some help to see if I should be proactive and do something or if I am just stuck with this until I can no longer walk.


    No on one the Spine-Health patient forums is medically qualified to provide any advice or
    or recommendations on any diagnostic test. However, the following key words can always be applied.

    • MILD Treated with conservative measures such as Physical Therapy and mild medications. Many times these situations can be cleared up and the condition can be resolved.
      MODERATE Some more treatments may be needed, ie Spinal Injections, Ultra sound and stronger medications. Always a possibility of more aggressive treatment if the conservative measures don't help
      SEVERE Need for stronger medications. The requirement for surgery may be necessary

    Please click on link for helpful information
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Liz -spine-health moderator

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