Upright MRI – The modern way to image the spine

Author(s): Professor Francis W Smith

Hospital: University of Aberdeen, Medserena Upright MRI Centre

Reference: RAD Magazine, 40, 464, 13-15


I continue to be amazed that we still perform MRI of the spine with our patients lying down, when most of them suffer their symptoms when either sitting or standing. Low back pain will affect as many as four out of five people in Britain, and results in 4.5 million days off work a year. Yet we still persist in performing the MRI examination with them supine, with knees and hips flexed, when it is possible to scan them upright in the position where they suffer their symptoms.

MRI performed using either a 1.5T or 3.0T magnet will give high resolution images of the spine, however they do not give any information about the biomechanical causes of back pain. This information is available when an upright MRI scanner is used, where there is more likelihood of making the correct diagnosis.

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