What is Cervical Spine MRI?
A cervical spine MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of pain in the neck (cervical spine) and its surrounding areas in a non-invasive manner.
In this scan, multiple images of the blood vessels and soft tissues of the neck are generated using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
The cervical spine MRI helps doctors in examining pain, swelling, and deformity in the neck joint. It also helps them to visualize tumors, infections, inflammation, and other abnormalities in the neck.
The MRI of the neck may be done with or without the use of contrast material (dye) that is injected into the veins. When the contrast material is used, the blocked blood vessels are seen more clearly in the scanned images.
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Who Should Get a Cervical Spine MRI?
Your doctor may recommend a cervical spine MRI if you have one or more of the following symptoms or ailments:
- Severe pain in the neck
- Injury to the neck
- Swelling in the neck
- Neck infection (collection of pus known as neck abscess)
- Stiffness in the back, arms, shoulders, and legs
- History of brain or spinal cancer
- Birth defects of the cervical spine
- Had surgery to the cervical spine within the past 10 years
Why You Should Take a Cervical Spine MRI?
You should take an MRI of the neck only when recommended by your doctor. It will help your doctor to:
- Evaluate unexplained pain, swelling, or bleeding in and around the neck.
- Detect birth defects of the cervical spine.
- Monitor injury to the neck after an accident and detect bone fractures.
- Diagnose work or sports-related injuries caused by forceful impact or repeated strain.
- Detect tumor or cancer in the cervical spine.
- Detect nervous system disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
- Diagnose neck conditions such as:
- Myelopathy (when the spinal cord becomes compressed or squeezed)
- Syringomyelia or SM (when a fluid-filled cavity exists within the spinal cord)
- Diagnose arthritis (joint inflammation) in the cervical spine.
- Check the structure and alignment of the spinal cord and bones.
- Monitor the changes in the neck after an operation done within the past 10 years.
- Help plan neck or cervical spinal surgery.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Thoracic Spine MRI (Mid-Back) to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the middle back. Your doctor may even recommend a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) test to evaluate the overall status of your metabolism. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How Is a Cervical Spine MRI Performed?
- Before starting the MRI of the cervical spine, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body, including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- A technologist will ask you to lie still on the MRI scanner table, which will move slowly through a doughnut-shaped MRI machine.
- Once you are inside the MRI machine, multiple images of your neck will be taken, and these will be displayed on a monitor.
- At certain points during the scan, the technologist will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
In case, your doctor has asked you to take a cervical spine MRI with contrast, then contrast dye will be injected into your vein shortly after an initial series of scans. Additional images will be taken following the injection.
How Long Does a Cervical Spine MRI Take?
An MRI of the cervical spine is usually completed between 30 to 45 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Cervical Spine MRI?
No. An MRI is a painless imaging test that doesn’t use radiation.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Cervical Spine MRI?
- People who have implants such as a cardiac pacemaker, coronary stent, orthopedic rods, and plates, which contain metal, may face certain risks. The magnets used in an MRI can make implanted pins or screws move in the body or cause problems with pacemakers.
- Some people might also have an allergic reaction to the contrast dye used in an MRI.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the cervical spine MRI is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Cervical Spine MRI?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.
- Book and manage your personal health records
- Feel organized — keep your results in one place
- Save money — avoid surprise medical bills
How it Works
- Select your test & location
- Visit your appointment
- Access and share your test results any time