Diagnosing with Imaging Studies

At DFW Center for Spinal Disorders, Dr. Tinley uses a variety of imaging studies to help diagnose spinal problems. In this blog, let’s get into the tests we use. 

  •     Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — We’ve all heard of MRIs but most of us aren’t really sure what goes into one of these tests. An MRI is a noninvasive test that doesn’t use radiation, unlike an x-ray. Instead, in an MRI, a magnetic field is combined with radiofrequency waves to create detailed views of the soft tissues of the spine. Unlike with an x-ray, nerves and discs are clearly visible on an MRI, which makes MRIs superior for most nerve compression problems. An MRI can detect which disc is damaged and if there is any nerve compression. It can detail bony overgrowths, spinal cord tumors, and abscesses.
  •     Myelogram — These are specialized x-rays where dye is injected into the spinal canal through a spinal tap. An x-ray fluoroscope then records the images formed by the dye. The dye used in a myelogram shows up white on the x-ray, allowing Dr. Tinley to view the spinal cord and spinal canal in detail. Myelograms can show a nerve being pinched by a herniated disc, bony overgrowths, spinal cord tumors, and abscesses.
  •     Computed Tomography (CT) Scans — These noninvasive tests use an x-ray beam and a computer to create two-dimensional images of the spine. CT scans may be performed after dye has been injected into the patient’s bloodstream for contrast. CT scans are especially good for confirming which disc is damaged and is the source of possible compression.
  •     Electromyography (EMG) — These tests measure the electrical activity of the patient’s muscles. Small needles are placed in the muscles, and the results are recorded on a special machine.
  •     Nerve Conduction Studies (NCS) — These tests are similar to EMGs, but they measure how well the patient’s nerves pass an electrical signal from one end of the nerve to another. These tests can detect nerve damage and muscle weakness, often the aftereffects of long-term nerve compression.
  •     X-rays — While x-rays cannot diagnose the soft tissue of a herniated disc, they can tell Dr. Tinley if any of the patient’s bony vertebrae are too close together or whether there are arthritic changes, such as bone spurs or fractures. If two vertebrae are too close together that may signal that the disc between them has herniated and has flattened.

If you’re dealing with chronic back or neck pain, please call us at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders. Dr. Tinley may employ one of these tests to get to the bottom of your nerve issues. Call us at (817) 916-4685 to make an appointment.

Posted in: Spinal Disorders


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