Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Confusion over Abnormal Spinal MRIs?

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 3 Replies
  • Posted By: audespero
  • October 9, 2008
  • 08:08 PM

So here's the deal. About a month ago, I started having back pain, out of nowhere. There was no specific incident that sticks out in my mind that would have caused it. No crazy lifting, no falls, no pregnancy, no nothing. So I went in to the doctor.

Here I am a month later, and i've gone through two MRI's (one w/o contrast, one with), a nuclear bone scan, and now I'm scheduled for a CT scan. The doctor has barely explained any of this to me, and I'm getting to a point where I'm sick of all the poking and the prodding. I just want an explanation, no matter how small or incomplete. I want some reason why they have to do this. I just want some explanation of what some of this means. It's killing me to look at all these words, and not have anyone explain what the ***l they mean. I've tried looking most of it up online, but all that does is scare and frustrate me.

Here's what I know so far, from reading my MRI reports:

1. I have three herniated discs.

L3-4 level (which has a focal right paracentral soft tissue disc herniation with an extruded fragment extending approximately 15mm to the superior end-plate of the L4, with narrowed disc space)

L4-5 level (diffuse annular posterior protrusion with a small area of bright signal near the midline)

L5-S1 level (diffuse asymmetric annular protrustion, with no compromise of the neural foramen).

2. I also have what they refer to in the report as a "small ovoid area of altered MRI signal" within the center of my L4 vertabrae. It ranges between 12mm and 15mm and appears bright on the T2 weighted scans, but dark on the T1 scans with a thin rim of increased signal.

Now, besides the written explanation of the herniated discs, the first MRI goes on to say that this altered signal could be due to a hemangioma (which as I understand, is a blood tumor), but the radiologist notes that the findings are atypical for a hemangioma. Then he mentions an "atypical hemangioma" but notes that other possibilities shouldn't be excluded. one the first scan, he estimates it measured 12mm.

The second MRI shows the mass again, and this time, he estimates it measures "up to 15mm" in size. The report says it "does not have the typical characteristics of a benign hemangioma" and that the possibility of a benign or malignant lesion cannot be excluded.

They ordered a bone scan after that second MRI, which I had done this past Thursday. I got a phone call today, and they want to schedule a CT scan now, but they haven't explained to me why they want to, or what the bone scan revealed. Don't they have to explain it to me?

I've found a lot of possibilities on the internet, but self-diagnosing something is a dangerous and scary thing to get involved in. I just really want someone to explain some of these terms to me, and help me feel a little more informed and in charge of the situation.

Any explanation, links to articles, etc. are greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

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