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A Normal MRI, Celebrating An Anomaly

We saw something today that most of us in this practice have seldom seen, a completely normal MRI. It also had a report attached that said it was a completely normal MRI, another anomaly.

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There is a saying out there that, to paraphrase, we are all actually not living, but dying, each day. As we get older, our bodies start to break down from everything we do with, and to, them. Degeneration, especially in the joints and spine, is normal and can start showing up in tests such as MRI’s and CT scans in the early 20’s.

Also, very few people have a perfect structure. Spinal canals can be narrowed, there can be congenital defects throughout the body or people are injured in different ways at all ages. Radiologists are obliged to read everything they see, so even the “close to normal” MRI reports can scare a layperson into thinking there is something terribly wrong.

 This is why we treat patients, not MRIs. Something can show up on an MRI, but it could be normal for that person and be completely asymptomatic. It is also why we want to see films, not just reports. Every radiologist uses a different vernacular and level of importance to what they read. It may not be what we would consider important in relation to our patient’s symptoms.

So, if you get an abnormal MRI read, don’t panic. Your sympoms will be what is important, not a diagnostic test.

Last modified: December 11, 2020

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