Spine Survey (MRI) for Ankylosing Spondylitis

Your doctor has recommended you for a spine survey (MRI) for ankylosing spondylitis. Noninvasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to create detailed image slices (cross sections) of the various parts of your spine.

MR technology produces good soft-tissue images and allows the physician to evaluate different types of body tissue, including the spinal cord, vertebral disks, surrounding tissues and nerves to the back, as well as to distinguish normal, healthy tissue from diseased tissue. Our team of expert physicians, nurses and technologists is headed by Thomas J. Learch, MD, who specializes in the diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis.

What Is Ankylosing Spondylitis?

Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic, inflammatory arthritis that primarily affects the spine, although other joints can become involved. It causes inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones and the joints between the spine and the pelvis (sacroiliac joints) that can lead to severe, chronic pain and discomfort. In the most advanced cases, this inflammation can lead to new bone formation on the spine, causing the spinal bones to fuse together in a fixed, immobile position, sometimes creating a forward-stooped posture.

Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis

Early diagnosis and treatment of ankylosing spondylitis is imperative to prevent disability. Delayed diagnosis is common because symptoms are often attributed to more common back problems. Musculoskeletal imaging, specifically MRI, plays an important role in early diagnosis and monitoring of ankylosing spondylitis.

Why choose the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center for an MRI study?

Before Arriving for Your Exam

  • If you are claustrophobic (fearful of small, enclosed areas) or experience pain when lying on your back for more than 30 minutes, your referring physician may prescribe a relaxant or pain medication to help you through the exam. The imaging physicians at Cedars-Sinai will not prescribe these medications for you. It may help to avoid caffeinated beverages on the day of your study.
  • We want to make your waiting time as pleasant as possible. Please consider bringing your favorite magazine, book or music player to help you pass any time you may have to wait.
  • If your doctor gave you an order, please bring it.
  • You may also bring a CD to listen to during the procedure.
  • Please leave your jewelry and valuables at home.
  • Please wear comfortable clothing.

After Arriving

  • Please tell the technologist, radiology nurse and/or imaging physician of any allergies you may have, and if you are pregnant or are nursing.
  • You must also tell the technologist, radiology nurse and/or imaging physician if you have had any prior back surgery.
  • You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire which will determine if an MRI is safe for you.

During Your Exam

  • You may be asked to change into a hospital gown, and remove any metallic objects.
  • You will lie on the scanning table headfirst with arms at your side.
  • Coils (special devices to improve image quality) may be placed on or around the area of your body under study.
  • The scanning table will slide your whole body into the magnet.
  • During the scan you will not feel anything but will hear intermittent humming, thumping, clicking and knocking sounds. Earplugs will be provided to help mask the noise and allow you to listen to music.
  • In some cases, the imaging physician requests a contrast agent (dye) to improve the quality of the images. The dye is injected into a vein in the arm, and may cause a cool sensation.
  • As pictures are taken, you must hold very still and in some cases, hold your breath.
  • The technologist is always able to see and hear you during the exam.
  • The exam will take approximately 30 minutes.

After Your Exam

  • There are no restrictions placed upon you. You may eat or drive as normal.
  • Your study will be examined by an imaging physician and a report sent to your doctor. Your doctor will review the results with you.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.