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Read Your Test Reports

MarkRMMarkR Posts: 172
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Yesterday I received my MRI on CD. I also got a copy of the MRI Radiology Exam Report. What an eye-opener!

The only thing doctors told me about the MRI results was that at L5/S1, I had a left disc protrusion displacing the left S1 nerve root.

The report indicates the following:

- mild loss of disc height and disc dessication at L1/L2

- L2/L3 minimal disc bulge causing a slight flattening of the ventral thecal sac. There is mlid facet hypertrophy resulting in slight inferior neural foraminal narrowing.

- broad disc bulges at L3/L4 and L4/L5 indenting the ventral thecal sac. There is facet hypertrophy and spurring resulting in bilateral neural foraminal narrowing.

- the issues at L5/S1

Now I have something to discuss with my surgeon at the next appointment. I realize these issues may not have been serious enough to be included in my surgery 6 1/2 weeks ago, but I honestly had no idea there were other issues.

Geez, am I going to have to go through this process again in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years?


  • I am by no means a doctor... I kinda can't believe they didn't tell you about your other disks, thats crazy! Yes, read read read, get all the information you can!

    I cannot tell you whether or not you will require more surgery. I think it depends on the person. Some require them for life, while I think some only need one. They may not have mentioned the disk bulges, because it is possible they could heal?

    What I was told about disks and MRI's: You can take 100 healthy, pain free people, and give them an MRI. 50 will have herniation's and bulges etc. that they weren't aware of.

    I hope that in your case, you wont need further surgery. Try to take care of your back, to prevent further herniation. Good Luck!

  • perhaps they were saving the other levels?
    Who knows...I know i was back in 12 mths having my second level done which seemed rather mad.
    good luck. i see you're recent post op.
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  • Radiologists are trained to include anything that is not textbook perfect in the written report. What I have found is that my doctors don't put credence on the written report, and would rather view the films themselves.

    Everyone has things that are not "perfect" in our spine because as we age the changes happen. I recently had another c-spine MRI and when I received the report on it, I have bulges and protrusions and foraminal narrowing that the doctor didn't mention to me. Fortunately I received a phone call from the doctors PA yesterday and asked her if there was anything else in the MRI that was of concern other than previously noted cord damage and a growing syrinx, and she said no, so I know not to worry about those other things. On the other hand, the written report indicates that although the syrinx in my cord has changed, it is relatively minor changes. The doctor seems to be more concerned than "minor changes" indicate.

    So I've just written a lot of words that basically says rely on your doctor's opinion rather than just the written report. Of course, I always get a copy of my reports so that I know what to ask the doctor about. Just try not to worry too much until you get a chance to discuss it with your spine specialist.

    Good luck with your healing.

    Surviving chronic pain one day at a time, praying for a reprieve because living another 40 years like this doesn't sound too fun!
  • I used to wrok in a Drs surgery and I cant tell you how many times I saw that happen. Either the wrong report was put in the wrong x-rays or one or the other had the wrong name on it. We stopped using that particular company as they just couldn't get their act together.
    Having said that- the majority of surgeons do not read the report as they perfer to look at the MRI,CT or X-ray themselves instead of getting caought up in all the unnecessary stuff that is reported.
    As Amanda said so many people are walking around with bulges and tears that they are not even aware of.
    On an MRI I had done 7 years ago it showed I had herniations at L1, L2 L4. I had lami/Disc at L4/5 but the Dr left the other two alone as they were not a bit threat and I had no symptoms. My most recent MRI showed no problems except DDD at L1 & L2 so it repaired itself.

    So I would rather listen to the Dr then read the report and freak out.

    Sandra, it is best not to encourage trying to read each others reports. If someone needs to have a report read it is best to go back to your surgeon or even your local Dr but we are not qualified and it would be awful to give someone bad info just because we are untrained.

    Blessings Sara O:)

  • Angel Back and they say 10 different radiographers, 10 different reports!

    Albeit same/similar meanings but as you see, there is a coomon lingo but not universal lingo.
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  • it wasn't my intention to give someone a report of my own when they post their report - I'm not a Dr. and certainly not qualified to do that - I like to read other's reports just for my own to see how it compares to mine, whether they're having surgery, whether they're not, that's all, that's it. Thanks though for the pointer ! ;)

  • I just read what I posted way up above. What I meant by saying that - was we'll help you understand for example what a bone spur is - what a herniation is - what a protrusion is - what cervical lordosis is, etc. etc. NOw in whole, what your report means for you as an individual, that's all LOL: Sheese, could I stick my foot in mouth any further!! 8}
  • We all do it, esp if we are in pain or on meds.
    Sometimes I post things then look at it and think What the heck does that mean. :))( or worse, I am replying to a post I read earlier =))
    Blessings Sara O:)
  • I've always gotten a copy of all of my reports whenever I've had any picture taken, MRI, X-Ray, Nuclear Scan, whatever. But with my current doctor he never lets me have one or even see them. I had an MRI done on my right knee a few years back and when I went back to get the results, all my doc told me was that my knee was a huge mess. To this day I still have no idea what is wrong with it. I haven't had time to deal with it since I've been busy with all of my other doctors. I'm actually laughing when I think about this! =))
  • As Cindy (Neck of Steel) said, radiologists are trained to spot and report every little anomaly that they find - anything that is not textbook perfect. It is up to your doctor/surgeon to also read the image & report, and draw his/her own conclusions as to what the real issues are and what is not really an issue at all. I know that some doctors will completely ignore the radiologist's report and simply review the image themselves.

    It was also said to me by at least a couple of doctors that you could perform an MRI on a dozen completely fit, healthy patients who are suffering absolutely no back pain at all, but the MRI would identify that some of them had mildly herniated discs, degenerated discs, some degree of stenosis, etc. In other words we are probably all living with some imperfections with our spines that may actually never end up causing us any issues.
    Keep positive!


    ...an old timer here and ex-moderator

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