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How do you read MRI results of the cervical spine?

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Quick Answer

MRI results of the cervical spine are read using signal intensity and comparing readings with those of normal tissue, states the National Institutes of Health. Interpretation of signal intensities range from high to low and are seen on the image as white, black and gray, notes Neurosurgery Basics.

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MRI or magnetic resonance imaging is often used to assess spinal conditions and injuries as it can show abnormal tissue around the spine and is superior to using X-rays as it can not only show bone, but it can also show nerves and disks and is able to detect tumors, states the Center for Neuro and Spine. MRI technology uses a magnetic field and radio waves that create detailed images of organs and tissues in the body and produce 3-D images that can be viewed from multiple angles, notes Mayo Clinic.

Common reasons for abnormal results of MRI cervical scans include a herniated or “slipped” disk, narrowing of the cervical spine and abnormal wear in bones and cartilage of the neck. However, abnormal results may also be due to bone infection, disk inflammation, infection of the spine, multiple sclerosis, spinal fractures, spinal tumors and spinal cord injury or compression, states the NIH.

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