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CT or MRI Scans

Imaging

Imaging is extremely important for investigating CSM. There are two types of body scan in general use today; CT [or Computed Tomography] and MRI [Magnetic Resonance Imaging].

CT Scans

How does it work?

  • A CT scan is complicated x-ray. An x-ray machine rotates around your body and a computer will combine these 2D images to form a 3D picture.

Can anyone have a CT Scan?

  • Yes

What is the process?

  • A CT scan is a very quick procedure and lasts about 30 seconds.
  • The scanner looks like a larged ring dognut.

Is it useful in CSM?

  • A basic CT is not very useful in CSM, as the x-rays do not highlight the spinal cord or intevertebral discs.
  • If a patient is unable to have a MRI scan, a CT Myelogram can be performed. This is where die is injected into the back to highlight these structures

MRI

How does it work?

  • A CT scan is complicated x-ray. An x-ray machine rotates around your body and a computer will combine these 2D images to form a 3D picture.

Can anyone have an MRI Scan?

  • No.  Due to the role of magnets, any patient with implanted magnetic metal or a risk of having metal inside their body cannot have a MRI scan as they may become dislodged, damaged internal structures.  If you are unsure whether this applies to you, download our MRI safety questionnaire. 

What is the process?

  • A MRI scan is a slow process. To scan the cervical spine can take 20 minutes. The scanner is essentially a very tight and narrow tunnel. Some patients find it very claustrophobic. 
  • The switching on and off of the magnets, and the rotation of the sensors create a lot of noise. Noise reducing headphones are therefore applied to the patient, but the sounds can still be heard. 
  • Like the CT scanner, 2D images are reconstructed to form 3D images. 
  • Due to the length of time it takes to acquire an image, any patient movement can affect the reconstruction. It is therefore really important to remain perfectly still.

Is it useful in CSM?

  • Yes . This is currently the best and safest way of providing a picture of all the structures of the spinal column.  

Download the MRI Safety Checklist to see if an MRI is safe for you