When Is an MRI Warranted?

Jun 15, 2022

When Is an MRI Warranted?

Why would you need an MRI? A better question might be, why wouldn’t you choose MRI for a detailed look at what’s going on with your joints, ligaments, bones, or spinal discs? Learn why MRI may be your best option.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an advanced imaging technique that delivers highly detailed images of bones, joints, organs, blood vessels, and other tissue structures inside your body.

The experts at Spine Center Atlanta, with seven locations in Georgia, explain the many benefits MRI offers in accurately diagnosing and treating painful orthopedic conditions and injuries that impact your mobility and overall quality of life.

How does an MRI compare to other imaging studies?

A standard X-ray uses a single beam of radiation to capture images of internal structures. They’re easy to perform and beneficial for gauging the severity of obvious fractures or other bony abnormalities.

However, plain film X-rays don’t always provide the details necessary to effectively diagnose and treat orthopedic conditions affecting smaller bones, ligaments, spinal discs, and other soft tissue structures.

A CT (computed tomography) scan uses numerous x-ray beams combined with computer technology to produce more detailed, cross-sectional images of bones and soft tissue structures.

MRI is a sophisticated imaging technique that uses magnetic fields and computer-generated radio waves, rather than radiation, to capture cross-sectional images of hard and soft tissue structures.

What are the benefits of MRI?

Images provided by MRI are much more detailed than those obtained with X-rays and other imaging studies. This allows a quicker and frequently more accurate diagnosis of injuries or chronic diseases.

For instance, MRI can detect abnormalities of the spinal cord, bulging discs, small disc herniations, pinched nerves, and other soft tissue problems not evident on X-rays. Your Spine Center Atlanta specialist uses this information to design a treatment strategy that’s precisely tailored to your needs.

Our patients also appreciate the convenience of undergoing one detailed MRI rather than several evaluations before receiving an accurate diagnosis, eliminating unnecessary treatment delays. 

In addition, because MRI uses radio waves to “see” what’s happening internally, it removes concerns regarding radiation exposure and is considered safe even during pregnancy, if cleared by your obstetrician.

Why would I need an MRI?

Based on a physical evaluation and careful review of your medical history and symptoms, the Spine Center Atlanta team may recommend an MRI if they suspect:

  • Herniated discs
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Compressed (“pinched”) spinal nerves
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Spine and bone tumors
  • Sports injuries
  • Infections
  • Arthritis
  • Bone disease
  • Cartilage, ligament, and tendon injuries

However, not everyone can have an MRI. Because the study uses powerful magnets, it may not be safe to undergo MRI if you have an artificial joint that includes metal components, a pacemaker, or another medical device. 

Schedule an evaluation at Spine Center Atlanta today for more information about our on-site MRI Center and complimentary MRI review services. Call the office or request an appointment online.