Tomography of the spine( magnetic resonance, computer)

Tomography of the spine is a modern, highly informative, safe, painless and non-invasive method for examining the structures of the spine, which allows you to visualize the tissues in detail and draw conclusions about their condition. The word "tomography" comes from the Greek "tomo" - a cross-section and "grapho" - to write, which explains the main essence of the technique - obtaining layer-by-layer snapshots of the necessary part of the body.

Today in practical medicine two kinds of tomography are used:

  • computer,
  • magnetic resonance.

And although, at first glance, these two surveys seem to be exactly the same, this is far from the case. They are based on various physical phenomena, each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, indications and prohibitions to conduct, especially training. Let's consider in detail each method of tomographic examination of the spinal column.

Back pain is an excuse to make a spine tomography

When a spine tomography

is needed Tomography of the spine is indicated in the following cases:

  • acute or chronic back pain and lumbosacral spine;
  • diagnosis of osteochondrosis, spondylosis, spondylarthrosis, spinal fusion of the thoracic spine and other segments;
  • suspicion of intervertebral hernia, as well as to determine its appearance, localization and size, to assess the possibility of an operative intervention, to outline its plan;
  • headache, dizziness, fainting, noise and ringing in the ears, which are signs of diseases of the cervical spine;
  • spine injury;
  • congenital diseases of the musculoskeletal system;
  • curvature of the spine, postural disorders;
  • tumor lesions of the spinal tissues;
  • inflammatory diseases of the spinal column;
  • infectious lesions( osteomyelitis, tuberculosis, etc.);
  • diseases of the spinal cord and nerve fibers;
  • osteoporosis and compression fractures;
  • drawing up a treatment plan for the pathology of the spine, control over its conduct.

Obviously, tomography is a very informative and popular method of examination. Only with its help it is possible to put the exact diagnosis that will exclude mistakes at purpose or appointment of treatment.

Computed tomography of the spine

Computer tomography is based on conventional X-ray irradiation, but the photographs are taken layer by layer and by digitizing the obtained data. On the screen of the monitor or on a special film, detailed images of anatomical structures are obtained.

CT of the cervical spine
CT of the cervical spine

Pictures can be performed in a horizontal and vertical plane. Their thickness is regulated by special settings in the computer. Depending on the density of the tissues, they look different in the pictures. The densest - the bones - are white, and the air and liquid are black. All the others have different gray shades.

In some cases, computed tomography is performed with contrast. Special contrast agents are injected into the systemic circulation or orally and then a scan is performed. This way you can visualize the vessels of the brain, heart, legs, etc. Such a study is called CT angiography. Also, contrasting helps to make better differentiation between individual tissues and pathological formations.

Important! CT is not an absolutely harmless method of examination, because it is based on x-rays. This should be taken into account when appointing a survey.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine

Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine is a layer-by-layer method for visualizing the spinal tissues, which is based on the physical phenomenon of nuclear magnetic resonance. MRI is recognized as the "gold standard" for diagnosing vertebrogenic diseases of the lumbar region and other segments of the spine. It allows you to accurately diagnose even at the initial stage, when the symptoms of the disease are expressed minimally and there is a high chance of completely defeating it.

MRI is an absolutely harmless method of research, it does not carry any radiation burden for the body, unlike CT.A person is placed in a strong magnetic field, which can not harm the living organism. Such a survey, if necessary, makes even newborn babies and pregnant women.

MRI in a child
MRI is performed even for newborns.

MRI is better suited for the visualization of soft tissues, such as intervertebral discs, while they are simply not visible with CT scans. For magnetic resonance imaging, contrast can also be used, which further improves its diagnostic capabilities.

When MRI is needed, and when CT

Both methods of tomographic examination of the spine are widely used in practical medicine. What exactly to choose in a particular case, should only the doctor decide, based on the expected diagnosis and the purpose of the study.

MRI improves visualization of intervertebral discs, muscles, ligaments, spinal cord, its membranes, that is, soft tissues. At CT, excellent images of bones are obtained. In such pictures, fresh bleeding, tumor formation, pathological changes in blood vessels are clearly visible.

Thus, it can not be said that one method is better than another. They just have different indications for the appointment, and can also complement each other well. In some cases, the CT procedure can be replaced by MRI in the presence of contraindications, and vice versa.

MRI of the lumbosacral spine
MRI of the lumbosacral spine. All soft tissue structures, including herniated intervertebral discs

, are perfectly visible. Preparing for the

procedure No routine preparation is required for an ordinary MRI.Immediately before the research you need to remove all metal jewelry and objects from yourself. As a rule, clinics give out special clothes so that the patient does not forget to take off something metallic. In the study room, it is also not desirable to take electronic items, such as a telephone.

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The procedure of MRI lasts 20-30 minutes. During this time it is necessary to lie absolutely still, otherwise the pictures will turn out to be uninformative. If the patient can not do this( children, people with mental disorders, with claustrophobia), then they are prescribed a short-term intravenous anesthesia to submerge into sleep.

In case of contrast application, make a test for sensitivity to the contrast agent.

You need to prepare for a CT scan.3-4 days before the study, the diet excludes products that promote gas generation. Otherwise, gas in the intestine can reduce the diagnostic capabilities of the method.

Contraindications to the

examination Computed tomography is contraindicated in such situations:

  • pregnancy( radiation load at examination is equivalent to 3-5 years of exposure to background radiation);
  • too large mass of chalk( as a rule, standard tomographs are designed for weight up to 120-150 kg; for obese people, there are separate models of apparatus with a limitation of 250 kg);
  • infant age;
  • inadequate patient behavior;
  • is a severe general condition of a person;
  • with the introduction of contrast - an allergy to the drug, a severe degree of renal failure, a pathology of the thyroid gland.
Radiography of the spine
The presence of metal structures in the body - an absolute contraindication to MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging is contraindicated in such cases:

  • the presence in the body of metal structures and electronic devices, for example, endoprostheses, platinum for fixing fractures, vascular clips, pacemakers;
  • fear of enclosed space;
  • body weight, which exceeds the allowable for a particular apparatus;
  • mental disorders;
  • is a severe general condition of a person.

Cost of spine tomography

The first question asked by a person who is assigned tomography of the spine is how much is this examination. At once it is necessary to tell or say, that the price of a tomography of a vertebral column not small. It differs in different institutions depending on the equipment that is used, on the type( MRI, CT), on the need for contrasting, on the number of spine sections examined, the specialist's qualifications and the status of the clinic.

The average price of a computer tomography of one department of the spine is 2800 rubles without contrasting and 4200 rubles with the introduction of contrast. Magnetic resonance imaging of one segment of the spinal column will cost an average of 3,500 rubles.

Despite the high cost, this diagnostic procedure remains highly sought after, as it is safe for humans, completely painless and highly informative. Unfortunately, today there is no worthy alternative to tomography in the diagnostic plan.

Tomography of the spinal column
  • When you need a spine tomography
  • Computed tomography of the spine
  • Magnetic resonance imaging of the spine
  • When you need an MRI and when a CT
  • Preparing for the
  • procedure Contraindications to the
  • Survey The cost of a spine tomography