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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the Cervical Spine

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the cervical spine

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the cervical spine is one of the most promising and rapidly improving methods of modern diagnostics. At the same time, the doctor gets the opportunity not only to investigate structural and pathological changes but also to assess the physicochemical, pathophysiological processes of the entire cervical spine as a whole or its individual structures.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the cervical spine (neck) in frontal section for neck pain.

Developmental defects of the spine are more common in the cervical and lumbosacral regions. In the cervical spine, along with occipitalization of the atlas and mixing of the C1 vertebra in relation to the C2 vertebra, short neck syndrome (Klippel-File) can be observed. When carrying out magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine, the cervical vertebrae represent a shapeless bone mass. In such patients, there is no neck (the head lies directly on the body), the mobility of the head is limited, the hairline is low, there is scoliosis or kyphoscoliosis.

Accessory cervical rib syndrome can be clinically manifested under the influence of adverse factors (cooling, trauma, infection). In many cases, additional cervical ribs do not make themselves known and turn out to be an accidental finding during magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine. Clinical manifestations of accessory cervical ribs are characterized by the presence of neuralgic pain in the shoulder, which sometimes extends to the entire limb.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine allows you to obtain a series of thin sections, build a three-dimensional reconstruction of the area under study, highlight the vascular network, and even individual nerve trunks and vessels passing in the projection of the cervical spine.

Such a reconstruction provides invaluable assistance to a neurosurgeon in planning an operation and for subsequent postoperative monitoring of the patient's spine.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine (neck) in an axial section for neck pain.

Early diagnosis using magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine for pain or discomfort in the neck and occipital region allows timely treatment of diseases of the cervical spine and spinal cord at this level.

The ability, using magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine, to simultaneously demonstrate the spine itself and soft tissues around it over a large area without the introduction of contrast agents and without the use of ionizing radiation (X-ray), to determine the localization and size of tumors, the cartilaginous surface of joints, muscles and tendons.

Currently, magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine has come to the fore in the diagnosis of most diseases of the cervical spine, pushing aside such methods as radiography and computed tomography (CT) of the spine.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine on a sagittal section for neck pain.

In what cases can an examination of the magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine be prescribed:

  • osteochondrosis of the cervical spine
  • protrusion and herniated discs of the cervical spine
  • metastases of tumor cells at the level of the cervical spine
  • spinal stenosis
  • injuries to the cervical spine (fracture, dislocation, or instability of the spine)
  • developmental anomalies of the cervical spine (short neck syndrome (Klippel-Feil), accessory cervical rib syndrome)
MRI of the cervical spine is prescribed for clinical manifestations of a hernia or protrusion of the intervertebral disc (indicated by the arrow).
Imaging of the brachial plexus with 3 Tesla magnetic resonance neurography.

Our patients are offered to undergo an MRI of the cervical spine using an apparatus with a magnetic field of 3.0 T (Tesla). It is also possible to conduct MRI with intravenous contrast (Omniscan contrast) to increase the visual difference between healthy tissue and tumor. Weight restriction (for a patient with a large weight) during magnetic resonance imaging - up to 200 kg.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the suboccipital muscles. Muscles at the level of the anterior arch of C1 vertebra (A): 1 - rectus capitis posterior minor, 2 - rectus capitis posterior major. Muscles at the middens level of C2 vertebra (B): 3 - longus colli/capitis, 4 - inferior oblique capitis, 5 - semispinalis cervicis/multifidus, 6 - semispinalis capitis, 7 - splenius capitis.