What is a Neck MRI?
A neck MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the neck and its surrounding areas in a non-invasive manner. In this scan, multiple images of the bones, blood vessels, and soft tissues of the neck are generated using radio waves and a strong magnetic field.
The neck MRI helps doctors in examining pain, swelling, and deformity in the neck joint and visualizing tumors, infection, inflammation, and other abnormalities in the neck.
The MRI of the neck may be done with or without the use of a contrast material (dye) that is either taken by mouth (orally) or injected into the veins. When the contrast material is used, the organs are seen more clearly in the scanned images.
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Who Should Get a Neck MRI?
Your doctor may recommend a neck MRI if you have one or more of the following symptoms or ailments:
- Severe pain in the neck
- Injury to the spine
- Swelling in the neck
- Neck infection (collection of pus known as neck abscess)
Why Should You Take a Neck 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 spine
- Detect bone fractures
- Detect tumor or cancer in the spine
- Detect nervous system disorders such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Diagnose neck conditions such as Myelopathy—when the spinal cord becomes compressed or squeezed, and Syringomyelia (SM)—when a fluid-filled cavity exists within the spinal cord
- Diagnose work or sports-related injuries caused by forceful impact or repeated strain
- Diagnose arthritis (joint inflammation) in the spine
- Assess the structure of the cervical spine
- Check progress after a neck surgery done within last 10 years
- Help plan neck or spinal surgery
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Carotid Ultrasound to confirm diagnosis for abnormalities such as cysts or tumors. Your doctor may even recommend a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) test to understand the status of your metabolism. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How Is a Neck MRI Performed?
- Before starting the MRI of the neck, 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 that will be displayed on a monitor.
- During the scan, the technologist will ask you to hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds at certain points. 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 neck MRI with contrast, then a contrast dye will be injected into your vein shortly before the scan begins.
How Long Does a Neck MRI Take?
An MRI of the neck is usually completed between 30 to 45 minutes.
Is Radiation Involved in a Neck MRI?
No. An MRI is a painless imaging test that doesn’t use radiation.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Neck MRI?
- People who have implants such as cardiac pacemaker, coronary stent, orthopedic rods and plates, which contains 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 neck MRI is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Neck 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.