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MRI Results - Don't understand this stuff

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
So I got my MRI results today, and well I don't understand any of it to be honest. I have not heard back from the neurologist yet, his office said he would go over them with me at the next appt. in a month!

I am in a lot of pain and have been for a couple of years, but lately its gotten progressively worst and new symptoms have been causing me to worry and reach out to this neurologist who ordered my MRI. I just want to understand what is going on with me. I know what I am feeling is bad, but I don't know if this is anything to worry about or not.

Here are the results and hope someone can give me some personal interpretations.

Cervical MRI Results:

At C2-3, there is a moderate diffuse annular disc bulge with degenerative facet hypertrophy. Moderate narrowing of the spinal canal was demonstrated. Minimal 5 mm area of altered signal intensity demonstrated within the cervical cord at this level. There is degenerative narrowing of the left neural foramen noted at this level.

At C3-4, there is a moderate diffuse broad-based annular disc bulge with degenerative facet hypertrophy and moderate spinal stenosis. There is narrowing of the inferior aspects of the neural foramina bilaterally, left greater than right.

At C4-5, there is a moderate diffuse broad-based annular disc bulge with facet degeneration. There is moderate spinal canal stenosis with mild neural foraminal narrowing bilaterally.

At C6-7, and C7-T1, no focal abnormalities are demonstrated.


Degenerative changes are noted most pronounced at C2-3, C3-4 and C4-5. Multilevel annular disc bulges are noted at these levels with resulting moderate spinal stenosis. There is also a 5 MM focal area of altered signal intensity within the cervical cord at the level of C2-3 which may represent a small area of cord contusion. Multilevel displacement and impingement of the cervical cord is suspected extending from C2-3 through C5-6. No evidence of fracture or abnormality of alignment.



  • Welcome to spine-health. I can't really interpret your MRI results, but I did want to tell you that I have learned through the years that most specialists won't rely on the radiology report at all. They prefer looking at the films themselves to make their conclusions. I received a written report one time and was quite concerned with what it said. When I was finally able to get in to see my doctor, he explained to me that the radiology guys are trained to note everything that is not textbook perfect, and that for liability purposes they have to do that. however, just because it is noted on the written report doesn't mean that a bulge is causing your problems, etc.

    I will tell you that I had a cord contusion and am still dealing with the effects of it. Mine was from the C5 to T1 area, and caused a bunch of problems. I would suspect that the specialist will want to pay close attention to this area. Be sure to ask him specifically what he thinks it could be, and if this is causing your problems. It is difficult to be patient, I know, but try not to worry too much. You could google each phrase and get a definition of what each medical term means, but again, it may cause more alarm than necessary.

    Please update us after you get the verbal report from the doctor.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • Hello techguy, and welcome to SH. I wish I knew how to explain all of this to you. What I can say, is that I had my MRI in June, and freaked out, probably a lot like you may be doing right now.

    The nurse from my doctors office called me. She rattled off all of these medical terms to me, said the doctor says I need surgery. I need to call a neurologist, and a neurosurgeon.

    That was all the information she gave me. She was very cold, and frustrated at my questions. I got off the phone and cried. I called my husband at work, and told him I needed to have surgery. He had all these questions, and I didn't know the answers. So I called the doctors office back, and spoke to another nurse. She was shocked that the first nurse was so cold to me, and hadn't explained anything. She did the best she could do to explain the MRI over the phone. She then had my doctor call me to explain also.

    I didn't get the full gist of everything until my first appointment with the neurologist a few weeks later. He said that I in fact would not need surgery. He showed me a model of a vertebrae, and explained everything in detail. It really was a lot simpler than I had imagined in my head. After all the googling of terms, I had all these scary visions in my head.

    I think that one thing you can probably be sure of, is that your condition may not be anything too worrisome, which may be why the doctor isn't in a rush to get you in. I'm not a doctor, and I don't have experience reading MRI's so that is only my opinion...

    Try not to worry yourself too much. Let us know how everything works out for you.
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  • Got MRI recently.. results are

    C3-C4 broad based pasterior disc oaterphyte complex and small right unicinate hypertrohy causing mild degree of spinal canal stenosis and mild right forminal stenosis

    C4-C-5 Broad based posterior small disc osteophyte complex causing mild degree of spinal canal stenosis with out cord impingment or comrprmise of exiting nerve root

    C5-C6 Broad based poaterior dis osteophyte complex and left worse than right unicinate hypertrophy causing mild to moderate canal stenosis and mild to moderate cord imoingement with out edema. Moderate left foraminal stenosis may cause mild im pingement of exiting left C6 nerve root.. mild right forminal stenosis

    my symptoms are burning flowing pain in neck shoulder region, left arm constantly numb, righ t shoulder and arm starting to go numb.. constant headches.. and bowel urgency with some bowel incontinance twice over last few months.

    I am scared yet know it is time to bite the bullet to have surgery.. looking for any advice or interpertation .
  • I want to help but what I'm going to say may sound a little mean--but thats not my intention. The thing is, people that come to this site or any medical site are not doctors even on TV let alone the internet! Likely even the radiologist who wrote the report or one of his own collegues would have to pull out the actual images to put it all together and interpret his findings. I'm continually amazed so many who come here expect fellow members with likely no medical training, simply aches and pains like them would be able to interpret their imaging reports. This would not change even if you posted your images to the site. People here are not going to interpret ESPECIALLY if they are physicians themselves.

    1. Have a spine specialist (surgeon or physiatrist) interpret your images and corillate them with clinical findings from an examination.
    2. Rarely can a primary medicine physician interpret images. PCP often scan the report for certain words in the report. This leaves them report biased and too dependent on the radiologists report.

    You can look words in the report up via google. This is not a bad thing because at least you might be prepared with questions to ask your doctor when you get in to see him. Its very easy to get worked up when you see all these comments that make it sound like you have the body of a 90 year old. Although there are abnormal findings, you'll soon likely learn these findings are YOUR normal.

    Can you imagine having a photograph taken of your face by a professional photographer? The photographer is asked to describe in writing exactly everything he is seeing on the image of your face. so he then describes asymetry between one side and the other. You did not wear make-up. He's not done any touch-ups or airbrushing etc. but he's used very harsh revealing ighting! He describes your skin condition, markings, moles, lumps, pimples, teeth, scars, blood shot eyes on and on. You'd actually felt pretty good and even "pretty" when you showed up at the photographers studio, but after reading the photographers report you feel like crawling under the bed sheets and staying away in hiding for along time. You've lost perspective and all confidence in your looks and just how you'd felt about your looks prior to reading the photographers report. And then another photographer reads the photo of your face too but he has a whole diffferent perspective! On and on. IMHO its like this for reading our images. We're not as bad as it usually sounds to us. It doesn't mean we don't have pathology, it just means that pimple on you face is not significant and does not have anyhting to do with your symptoms--analogy-wise.

    Waht I'm saying is this radiologist is simply reporting what he's required to report while reading your images. Some of the stuff he's reported may have some significance and a lot won't. You'll need a quaified physician to help you put this into perspective. If you see a doctor (your neurologist) for this and you still are in the dark--- find another doctor. Its important to weed thru all these findings on the report and along with a good intake of information and exam, figure out how you can be helped. It takes time to do this. The time between now and your appointment w/neurologist in a month may be nothing compared to the amount of time it may actually take to know what you need to know to treat your symptoms. This business is as much a art as it is a science. If nothing becomes emergent--it will be a slow journey.
    Best wishes.
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