What is a lumbar MRI?
A lumbar MRI specifically examines the lumbar section of your spine — the region where back problems commonly originate.
The lumbosacral spine is made up of the five lumbar vertebral bones (L1 thru L5), the sacrum (the bony “shield” at the bottom of your spine), and the coccyx (tailbone). The lumbosacral spine also consists of large blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
Why a lumbar MRI is done:
Your doctor may recommend an MRI to better diagnose or treat problems with your spine. Injury-related pain, disease, infection, or other factors could be causing your condition. Your doctor might order a lumbar MRI if you have the following symptoms:
- back pain accompanied by fever
- birth defects affecting your spine
- injury to your lower spine
- persistent or severe lower back pain
- multiple sclerosis
- problems with your bladder
- signs of brain or spinal cancer
- weakness, numbness, or other problems with your legs
Your doctor might also order a lumbar MRI if you’re scheduled for spinal surgery. The lumbar MRI will help them plan the procedure before making an incision.
An MRI scan provides a different kind of image from other imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scans. An MRI of the lumbar spine shows the bones, disks, spinal cord, and the spaces between the vertebral bones where nerves pass through.