Why are imaging tests important? Do the results confirm your diagnosis?
Imaging tests are important when someone has Spinal pathology (something abnormal in the spine), neurologic deficits or complaints, muscle weakness, or neck and/or back pain, because this may indicate the potential need for surgical treatment and the correct procedure to perform. Instability is best seen on Xrays with flexion/extension views. MRIs show disc abnormalities and nerve compression best. A CT scan is best for bony detail. A discogram, although less commonly ordered nowadays, is the only test able to identify disc pain and subtle tests. Imaging and diagnostic tests are also helpful when guiding targeted treatments, such as epidural steroid injections. Also, if your doctor has concerns there may be something serious involved, such as a spinal tumor, fracture, or infection, imaging studies can help identify the source of pain. A thorough surgeon orders all necessary tests to confirm the diagnosis and fine-tune the surgical plan.