If your doctor has recommended an MRI lumbar spine, you’re probably wondering what this imaging test shows. To help you prepare, here is a look at the details behind this type of MRI as well as a brief description of what you can see and why doctors order MRIs for this location.


What Is an MRI Lumbar Spine?

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and an MRI lumbar spine uses magnetic imaging technology to take detailed pictures of the inside of your body near the lumbar (lower) region of your spine. These images also capture the soft tissues, muscles, and organs in that part of your body.


When Do You Need an MRI Lumbar Spine?

Most back pain originates in the lumbar region of your spine, and if you’re having unexplained back issues, your doctor may want to take a closer look to see what’s happening. In particular, this area consists of the five lumbar vertebral bones, the sacrum, and the coccyx (tailbone) as well as the blood vessels, tendons, nerves, and ligaments that support these bones.

Your doctor may recommend an MRI lumbar spine if you are having any of the following symptoms or issues:

  • Back pain
  • Fevers with back pain
  • Back pain that extends into your legs
  • Injuries in your lower spine
  • Spinal birth defects
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Brain or spine cancer or the symptoms of these cancers
  • Issues with your bladder


Difference Between MRI Lumbar Spine and X-Ray

For generations, the traditional way to see inside someone’s body was with an X-ray. You may be wondering why doctors turn to an MRI rather than an X-ray. The reasons are multi-faceted. MRIs tend to show more detail, and the images are more effective for guiding treatments and helping with diagnoses. Additionally, an MRI lumbar spine is also safer than doing an X-ray in the same area.

MRIs use less radiation than X-rays. As a result, they are safer for everybody, but they are particularly safer for children who are still growing. Even pregnant women can get an MRI without worrying about side effects for themselves or their growing babies. That said, some people have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye, but luckily, that is rare, and a low dose MRI may work in that situation.


How Do You Prepare for an MRI Lumbar Spine?

If your doctor has recommended an MRI lumbar spine, you should talk with them about the procedure. If you have any metal in your body such as an intrauterine device (IUD) or a metal plate, let your doctor know. Also, let your doctor know about any allergies.

The MRI lumbar spine procedure is painless, but with most MRI machines, you are in an enclosed space. If you anticipate feeling nervous, let your doctor know so that they can potentially prescribe an anti-anxiety medication. Finally, make sure to find out if you need to be sedated so that you can arrange a ride home.


If you want to save money on your MRI lumbar spine, set up your appointment with us at American Health Imaging. We have top of the line equipment that is not available other places in the area, and because we focus on imaging, our prices stay low and our employees are well trained.