Open and Weight-bearing MRI for Cervical Disc Herniation

Most patients experience back or neck pain while sitting or standing, and lie down to relieve their pain. Traditional MRIs examine patients while lying down…in the position least likely to show the source of their pain.

At Spine Nevada we use a Stress Test MRI to examine the spine in both supine (lying down) and while bearing weight (sitting or standing). This allows doctors to observe how a patient’s bodyweight applies pressure to the injured discs, pinching the nerves and causing pain.

The unique Esaote Tiltable MRI obtains images in both the traditional horizontal position and tilts to an upright position during the same examination.

The Stress Test MRI explains why patients hurt standing up, but feel relief lying down, and why conventional MRI exams may fail to reveal the problem.

Open, Tilting, Weight Bearing MRI for Midline Cervical Herniation Presented by SpineNevada


Custom 3d Animation ©SpineNevada


A stress test of the cervical spine shows increased pressure applied to the spine in the upright position, and includes flexion and extension views (looking up and down).

Stresses on the discs are minimal when a patient is lying down during traditional supine MRI examination, and may only show a slight disc-bulge or nothing at all – and no pain.

When the table is tilted vertically, bodyweight compresses the disc causing the central disc material to protrude (or herniate), pinching the spinal cord and producing pain.

Looking downward (in flexion) creates more pressure on the disc and may increase the size of the herniation and spinal cord compression. Patients frequently report increased pain or numbness in the fingertips.

Supine images frequently fail to document disc herniation or spinal cord compression, while MRIs taken in weight-bearing or flexion/extension show the source of the patient’s pain.

A Stress Test MRI helps doctors at Spine Nevada diagnose and understand positional symptoms, which often affect the patient only when sitting or standing. While patients may experience relief while lying down…pain, numbness or weakness typically increase as the patient moves into an upright or weight-bearing position.

Diagnostic, weight-bearing images can reveal pinched nerves or injured discs that explain a patient’s symptoms, and which may not be seen in traditional supine images. In fact, conventional supine MRIs can miss thirty percent of spinal injuries.

If you experience more pain or numbness when you are standing or sitting, insist on a Stress Test MRI today. It’s your MRI – don’t take it lying down.

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