MRI Spine - Lumbar or Thoracic
Your doctor has recommended you for an MRI of your lumbar and/or thoracic spine. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed image slices (cross sections) of the various parts of your spine. MR technology produces good soft-tissue images and allows the physician to evaluate different types of body tissue including the spinal cord, vertebral disks, surrounding tissues, nerves to the back, as well as distinguish normal, healthy tissue from diseased tissue. Our team of expert physicians, nurses and technologists is headed by Rola Saouaf, MD, chief of Body and Cardiac MRI.
Before Arriving for Your Exam
- You can print and fill out the MRI Questionnaire and the MRI and Pregnancy form, if applicable, from the Pre-Registration Questionnaire page before arriving to speed the registration process.
- If you are claustrophobic (fearful of small, enclosed areas) or experience pain when lying on your back for more than 30 minutes, your referring physician may prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the exam. The imaging physicians at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center will not prescribe these medications for you.
- If you plan to take relaxation medication before your exam, it is our policy that you come with someone who can drive you home.
- You may eat and drink before this exam.
- For studies that involve IV contrast: If you have veins that are small or hard to find, or have a port, please arrive 60 minutes before your scheduled arrival time.
- If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it with you.
- We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass the time.
- You may also bring a CD to listen to during the procedure.
- Please leave your jewelry and valuables at home.
- Please wear comfortable clothing.
- You must tell the technologist, radiology nurse and/or imaging physician of any allergies you may have, and if you are pregnant or are nursing.
- You must also inform the technologist, radiology nurse and/or imaging physician if you have had any prior back surgery, or if this exam is a cancer follow-up.
- You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire that will determine if an MRI is safe for you. People with various implants (usually metallic) or with metal in their bodies (including some tattoos) may have difficulty with an MRI, which utilizes a strong magnetic field. The imaging physician needs to be informed of any of these potential problems.
During Your Exam
- You may be asked to change into a hospital gown, and remove any metallic objects.
- You will lie on the scanning table headfirst with arms at your side.
- Coils (special devices to improve image quality) may be placed on or around the area of your body under study.
- The scanning table will slide your whole body into the magnet.
- During the scan you will not feel anything, but will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds. Earplugs will be provided to help mask the noise and allow you to listen to music.
- In some cases, the imaging physician requests a contrast agent (dye) to improve the quality of the images. The dye is injected into a vein in the arm, and may cause a cool sensation.
- As pictures are taken, you must hold very still, and in some cases, hold your breath.
- The technologist is always able to see and hear you during the exam.
- The exam will take approximately 45 minutes.
After Your Exam
- There are no restrictions placed upon you. You may eat or drive as normal, although if you took relaxation medication, you will need someone to drive you home.
- Your films will be examined by an imaging physician and a report sent to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you.
- To request a copy of your images on a CD or a copy of your report, please call 310-423-8000, option 2 or submit an online request.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.