Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging technique which does not involve radiation. MRI is an important tool to diagnose lumbar spine disorders, such as disc degeneration, disc prolapse (bulging) and nerve compression. However, more investigations may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
An MRI is a simple investigation and it is pain free. You will be asked by the radiographer to complete a set of questions before undergoing the scan as there are certain situations when an MRI scan cannot be performed. For example, people with a pacemaker, shunts, aneurysm clip or intra-ocular foreign body, cannot have an MRI scan. People with an allergy to iodine cannot have an MRI with contrast. The scan takes at least 30 minutes to be performed, and you need to lie still during the scanning with as little movement as possible. Sometimes people can feel claustrophobic.
The MRI is reported by a consultant radiologist, and it may take several days for the results to become available. The result will be fully discussed with you when you attend a follow-up appointment.