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Is a MRI test used to diagnose a spinal cord injury?

While magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is less sensitive than a CT scan for some injuries, it is superior to CT in detecting injuries to the ligaments, the discs, and the spinal cord. MRI is commonly used to diagnose neck injuries, too. Unlike x-ray, which emits radioactive beams, MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to gather information about the bones, internal organs and tissues. In fact, MRI can evaluate musculoskeletal, soft tissue, and joint problems and find abnormalities of cartilage and ligaments that routine x-rays cannot. This imaging test can often reveal the cause of severe back pain and show ruptured discs.

MRI does not have the radiation exposure of CT scan or x-ray.  While it can show some problems more easily than other imaging methods, in some situations, your doctor may also order a CT scan or a combination of tests to make an accurate diagnosis. MRI scan can be done without admission to the hospital and is safe.

In most cases, your doctor will have the MRI report within hours. This tool is considered by most healthcare professionals to be a very reliable, non-invasive tool for detecting pain-related problems. MRI is used by clinicians as information contributing to a “total picture” of your condition to fit in conjunction with history, physical examination, laboratory studies, and more.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.