Spinal Tests and Diagnosis


Accurate diagnosis of a spinal problem is imperative for proper medical care. A physician will analyze the patient’s medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination. In addition, a variety of diagnostic tests may be recommended.

An x-ray is a photograph of skeletal anatomy that is generated from the use of radioactive material. An MRI scan is a procedure that utilizes magnetic and radio waves in order to produce two-dimensional images of soft tissue anatomy. A CAT scan uses x-rays to generate cross-sectional images of both bone and some soft tissue.

A myelogram is an x-ray examination of the spinal canal and nerve roots by the use of contrast dye. A bone scan is a procedure used to generate images of skeletal anatomy by a computer scan of an injected radioactive material. An EMG is a test used to examine the response of a muscle to nerve stimulation.

A facet joint block is a procedure in which an anesthetic and steroid are injected directly into the facet joint. Laboratory testing of collected fluids, such as blood, may be recommended to detect problems that are not determined by other tests. A spinal tap is a procedure in which cerebral spinal fluid is collected from the spine for examination. A discogram is an x-ray examination of the vertebral discs by the use of radioactive dye. Once the exact cause of the problem is identified, the appropriate treatment can then be determined.

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