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How often to have an MRI?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,550
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:34 AM in Lower Back Pain
I had my last MRI in May of 2007. I have struggled with renewed back pain since September of 2008, but when I visited with my spine surgeon back in January, he went off my old MRI and said that it's not a surgical issue, that I just have sciatica and I will have to "live with it." After 14 sessions of PT and visits with the chiropractor, I asked my family doc for another MRI b/c of the new symptoms, but she refused b/c of the spine surgeon's report based on an MRI over two years old!

Just how often should someone have an MRI? Is the spine something that changes dramatically over a short period of time, or is it pretty static? I would think that they would want all the info before making any further treatment decisions, but then again, that would make sense, huh?



  • my surgeon told me he likes many kinds of tests. the more tests the more info. your condition con change in one step...
  • A rough guideline is 6 months. 12 max.
    Don't take "no" for an answer. Fight for your wellbeing!
    On the sunny and mild Central Coast of California

    L4-L5 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy June, 2007
    L5-S1 endoscopic transforaminal microdiscectomy May, 2008
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  • if you have had surgery you will have to wait 12 months because of the surgical scar tissue and even then they may have to use gadolinium enhancement to distinguish between surgical and new damage .if you are having problems go and See another doctor and demand an MRI doctors are not gods and they do not have the ability to see inside your body without the aid of test equipment! so don't take no for an answer i take it that you don't live in the UK? keep on at your doctor until you get a satisfactory answer
  • NO, There is NO SET guideline of 6, 12, months etc. regarding MRI in YOUR situation. Whether and when to get an MRI will depend on you and YOUR doctor. New poblems or significant progression of prior problems will more likely prompt an MRI. Talk to your doctor for management. If you are not happy with Your doctor's answers, you have the right to get another doctor's opinion. MRI is great but it may or may not find a clear cause of your pain or a surgically correctable finding.
  • Part of the reason that many people have to wait for MRI availability, is because of the number of unnecessary MRI's being performed. Yes they are necessary and helpful at times, but having one just because you feel you should have one to check "progression", isn't necessarily the best thing to advocate. If a person has issues that they feel are "not right", a doc should be the one to determine if you need a new MRI or not. There's a huge amount of unnecessary testing being done because of patients "demanding" to be tested even when the doc feels it isn't prudent or warranted.

    I'm sure this won't be a popular opinion, but I certainly don't like having to wait when my doc feels I need a test or MRI, just because someone drove their doc nuts requesting one until the doc ordered it just to get some peace.

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  • and here I thought I was the only "tough love", tell people things they may not want to hear person on this site ;). Seriously though, only you and your doctor can determine if an MRI is worthwhile in your case.

  • if everyone had carte blanch on when they got an mri our insurance costs would even be more astronomical. "C" your right our drs are the ones that call the shots. our job is to report our symptoms to the dr. his job is to decide if testing is necessary. some people buy mris on their own each year. but they pay out of their own pocket.
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