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How to tell the difference between x-rays and scans it difficult to know what each one does.

An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create images of the inside of the body. These are more detailed than those obtained with other forms of imaging, and can be very useful for diagnosing problems with

  • brain and spinal cord
  • bones and joints
  • breasts
  • heart and blood vessels
  • internal organs, such as the liver, womb or prostate gland 

The results of an MRI scan can be used to help diagnose conditions, plan treatments and assess how effective previous treatment has been.


X-Rays use radiation to create an image on a screen. The radiation passes through thin tissues and fluid, so they show up as a dark area, while bones and other dense tissues block the rays, so these show up as light areas. X-rays can be used to diagnose –

An Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves, which can pass through fluid and less dense tissue, and the echo of these is used to create an image. Ultrasound can be used to diagnose problems affecting soft tissues, such as the pelvic organs, the heart, tendons and muscles, and of course keeping an eye on baby.

A CT (computed tomography) uses a combination of series of x-rays taken at different angles and a computer to create a series of 3D images. These are much more detailed than a standard X-ray, and can be used for –

  • diagnose conditions – including damage to bones, injuries to internal organs, problems with blood flow, stroke, and cancer
  • guide further tests or treatments – for example, CT scans can help determine the location, size and shape of a tumour before having radiotherapy, or allow a doctor to take a needle biopsy (where a small tissue sample is removed using a needle) or drain an abscess
  • monitor conditions – including checking the size of tumours during and after cancer treatment

Source: NHS, Woman & Home



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I have finally got the results of my last MRI scan of my spine.

Starting with my lumber spine, apparently the disc above my fusion is obviously in a bit of a mess but at the moment it is not impinging on any nerves.

My thoracic spine has not altered at all from the last MRI, which means that the good news is that the two that are bulging slightly are not causing any nerve damage.

They found that the disc under the fusion in my cervical spine (neck) isn’t so good and has some slight nerve impingement. They said that any type of surgery for this would only be advised if I cannot cope with the pain anymore.

They think I am in a lot of pain at the moment as my pain killer (tramadol) has simply just stopped working for me. I’ve been on that pain killer for over 10 years now so it didn’t surprise me.

I am now being referred to a Professor of Medicine who will look at different drugs I could try for the pain and I am also going to have a different type of injection when I go for my next session.

I wasn’t surprised with the findings, but I was surprised that it ‘wasn’t’ the bone spur that was causing all the pain in my cervical area. Hopefully, a new set of drugs will do the trick.



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At last I am having a full spinal MRI – my neck and thoracic pain in particular have gone worse over the last twelve months and we have tried lots of new treatments but none of the pain relief lasts long enough.

I had my last lot of injections in December but was struggling so much at that stage that my pain consultant told me to contact him if the injections didn’t work for long. Unfortunately I seemed to have got lost in the system, but eventually managed to get a telephone appointment with him.

I was then told to go to the Spinal Unit to see someone a couple of days later and it was decided that it was time I had a full spinal MRI. It will be a few weeks before we get the results but I really do feel that this is the right move.