Standard MRI scan. Will problems show up?

Hi everyone. I have my first MRI scan this Sunday evening at 7.10pm and I’ve had a letter through saying I’m booked in for a standard MRI scan of my head, neck and cervical spine? Did I get that right! I don’t have the enter in front of me right now … The nurse that phones me with the appointment told me I don’t need contrast and that if there is anything to see then a standard scan will pick it up. Is this true? I’ve been lied to about so many different things that I don’t have much faith in people who are supposed to be helping me right now so thought I best check on here to settle my mind! Also they are sending me to sheffield cancer hospital to have my scan which worried me a little but then again I can understand that if there busy at the main hospital then maybe they use another hospital for appointments?

The neck is the cervical spine, so it will either be a scan of your head, neck and thoracic spine or just your head and neck.

Don’t worry about where the scan is being done - it’ll be an availability thing I bet and the scans will be much the same no matter where you’re scanned.

Traditional MRI scans without contrast show up most MS lesions. The lesions that can potentially be missed are small ones and brand new ones. There’s some variation, but brand new usually means less than six weeks since the start of symptoms. Contrast can be helpful to detect these lesions. So, if you have a history of symptoms and nothing major that’s started in the past month or two, non-contrast scans should do the trick.

There are newer scan types being used these days that are meaning fewer hospitals use contrast routinely. It could be that this hospital uses these scans, in which case it should spot even brand new lesions.

I should add that different scanning centres seem to use different resolution scans and the better the resolution, the more likely you are to spot lesions, but even the best scanners set to scan at their best possible resolution miss things. An average sized MS lesion is unlikely to be missed with typical NHS scans though.

I hope it goes well.

Karen x

Hi Karen, Your up late! Thanks for the response :slight_smile: I’ve just read your post on the different parts of the brain and MRI scans. Amazing work! My mind is settled a lot now thank you. Do you usually get results on the day? Or do they post results out etc ? X Xx

The images are available immediately, but the report takes as long as the radiologist’s workload allows for. (And then it often sits on the neuro’s desk for a while before a letter is composed, typed and posted.) You should be able to pay for a copy of the scans on disc so you can have a look for yourself (typically about £20), but it’ll probably be a couple of weeks (or more) before you hear anything. Glad you enjoyed the brain post :slight_smile: Kx

Can I really request a copy on disc? I’d be interested to see those images! Though, to be honest, I don’t think I’d have a clue at what I was looking at or looking for! Xx

Yes, you can get a copy, but probably have to pay something. There’s a wee bit about reading MRI in the Sticky brain guide, but it’s probably best to wait for the report. If you don’t want to wait, I can try and explain more about what to look for. Kx

Thanks Karen :slight_smile: ill try and get a copy and let you know x

Someone please help. Ms or fibromyalgia? Two consultants two differing opinions no blood tests, no brain MRI but two incidents of herniated discs over a period of 9 months and still have pain in the same places, namely lower back and buttock region down to the foot in one leg. I’m left with pain in my back and leg that wakes me up screaming in pain if I accidentally lay on it but I have no other sensations apart from numb fingers occasionally. I suffer from migraines and have done for years but other than that I was healthy! I have had two MRIs one on my lumber one on the whole spine. I’ve had a whole cocktail of drugs and nothing helps the pain so far. If can flare up if I sit too long, stand too long or walk too far. Please help me.

Hi Confused,

You’re confused, but so am I, a little. Why do they think your problems are NOT due to the herniated discs?

Depending where they are, and how severe they are, they might completely explain your symptoms (except the migraines, which are probably nothing to do with it - especially if you’ve had them years, but the other stuff is recent).

How did you come to see two different consultants? Had you asked for a second opinion?

Has one of the consultants actually suggested you may have MS? If so, why is he not proceeding with a brain MRI? Or has this theory come entirely from you?

I would expect someone with two herniated discs in nine months probably to be getting some trouble from them, but herniated discs are a purely mechanical problem, and not caused by either MS or fibromyalgia. If they are severe, they may need surgery to correct them.

Sorry so many questions, but I really don’t understand who is suggesting MS, and on what evidence. In a patient with severe back and lower body pain, and not one but two herniated discs, the discs would usually be the first suspect. Did your spinal MRIs show any other abnormality apart from the discs?


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