MRI Scan

I've been suffering from a knee injury for the last few weeks (linked to a problem I've had for the last two years). I had some new x-rays done this week which do not show any problem in the bone and therefore my doctor has advised an MRI scan which I have booked for this Saturday.

Has anyone had one?
What did it show?
What it useful?


  • Hi MartinH

    I've not had an MRI scan yet, but like you, I will be having one soon (an Isotope Bone Scan) on Tuesday 8th Feb.

    Also like yourself, I have a recent injury, a suspected stress fracture of the right femur. The X-Ray showed nothing (which is usually the case), so I was referred for the bone scan. I must say it has totally restored my faith in the NHS, after wondering how many months/years I would be waiting to get something done. I had an x-ray the same day as visiting my GP, then had the results a week later and only 2 weeks after that, I will be having my bone scan.

    Unfortunately I think the injury has scuppered my plans to run London Marathon this year, but I will be back in time for the track and field season and have been contemplating the Berlin Marathon in September.

    Sorry that I'm not able to answer your question (yet), but all the best for Saturday. Perhaps you can let me know before I go on Tuesday?

    I have heard that they are very effective for showing up any weaknesses or stress points in the bones, so it will be very useful to have one. For me, it may well eliminate the stress fracture scenario after all, which would be a bonus. We jsut then have to find out what we are dealing with.

    Sarah :0)
  • MRI scans arer NOT the same as bone scans
    Im MRI you will have to go i to a tunnel, and it can be noisy
    Bone scan involves having an intravenous injection then the scan
  • Yeah, agree with hippo.

    They give a 3D image and take longer to do, and you have to keep pretty still. The tunnel could be a bit claustrophobic if you're not good with that sort of thing. They pick up soft tissue better than X-rays

    [looks to hippo for a nod of agreement]
  • hippo nods
  • Yes, I had a MR scan on my ankle a couple of weeks ago. My leg was only partially into the machine and the scan was stress-free and only took a few minutes. I was given a CDROM of the images, which came with its own viewing software. A specialist and I could easily see the site of an old unicycling injury in a tendon around the inside of the ankle that was flaring up again due to running. Physical examination could not reveal this. The examination eliminated other possible causes of my ankle pain. It was worth it to know there wasn't something else coming on, and that I could continue to train without doing any more damage.
  • If you get a decent bunch at your MRI unit, they may invite you to bring a CD, which they'll pipe to you in the "tube". The results of the MRI are several cross sections of the area scanned (by means of magnetic resonance), as if they've sliced through the knee at various points. Both my sons have had MRI scans done of their brains, and neither of them was fazed by the experience, even though one of them was only two years old at the time. You'll be fine!

  • eh aren't I lucky... I've had both MRI and bone scan - TWICE!!!
  • I've had MRI on my head which was scary and very claustrophic. I was at the point of panic when it finally stopped. and one on my knee which wasn't so claustrophobic but it is tricky to sit still in the position they put you in.

    The knee one told me that in spite of pain and swelling there was apparently nothing wrong with my knee.....
  • In case anyone is worried about radiation - don't be - there isn't any, in the xray or nuclear sense. The key word in mRi is "resonance", as in bells. Imagine you hung up two bells with the same note, and struck the one repeatedly. The one nearby will begin to sound in sympathy. Your ears hear the second bell sounding faintly when you stop the first bell.

    The first bell being hammered is the MR machine, the second bell is the part of the body being examined (the molecules in it resonate like a bell if they are impinged on by their natural note). Your ears are the machine lstening to what it gets back. It has very clever and directional hearing (and software) so that it can reconstruct exactly where the 'ringing' is coming from, in 3D (That's what you get the Nobel prize for.)
  • Had one on my leg - took about 30 mins - noisy so they put headphones on me and talked through them to say "keep still, taking images now" etc....

    Would not have liked to be fully in the tunnel though - would have got very claustrophobic...

    As it turned out my tibia was bust so a simple old xray would have done fine and alot less than £600....

  • Steve C -- [impressed] not just a pretty face eh.
  • i've got a scrip to go and get an MRI on my ankle but have put it off on the grounds that it won't tell me anything new
    (and that was according to the doc himself)

    doc wrote out scrip because i was asking if MRI might be useful - but he didn't really answer the question

    so, what is the real point in having one?

    (have had loads of xrays already and am pretty sure it's ligament damage)
  • I had one on my pelvis a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit claustrophobic, but I got to choose a CD to listen to which helped. Unfortunately the CD got stuck for the last 10 minutes and I didn't want to say anything in case they were scanning and I mucked up the scan by moving. Hence, I now have 3 seconds of "Invisible Sun" by the Police burned into my brain....
  • Had one done on shoulder. I would describe myself as mildly claustrophic but I didnt find it too bad. Took about twenty five mins (i think). Noise of the machine was more annoying than sense of claustrophobia. CD helped (although that was their choice not mine).

    The pictures are great, shoulder looked like a leg of lamb. The images are basically cross sections of your insides, both bones and soft tissue. Obviously you need to be an expert to actually see what is wrong.

    The MRI did pick up a problem which did not show on x-ray, so the MRI was useful. Have since had op on shoulder (and got more pics of the inside of my shoulder for my collection).

  • My ankle was swollen & agony when I had both MRIs. They still didn't show anything, even though the tenderness is easy to locate.
  • Had my MRI scan and (thank god) it didn't show any serious damage but did show a minor problem just under the knee cap. Back to the doctor today to see what his recommendation is.
  • Hi Plodding Hippo

    Yes, you're right, they are different. I've learnt something new (don't usually deal with injury stuff like this - thankfully). My bone scan is tomorrow (Tuesday) and I have to have a mildly radioactive injection (which is absorbed by the bones), wait about 3 hours, then have the scan, which I'm told usually lasts 30-45 minutes.

    I'll just be glad to get it over and done with, I'm not really claustrophobic, but will be happy to know if we are dealing with a stress fracture and what we can do as regards rehab from them on.

    Sarah :0)
  • I had an MRI to see what was wrong with my back (spondylosis and spondylolisthesis) and it was the first time it was diagnosed correctly. It was a bit like being attacked by a woodpecker while hiding in a drainpipe but completely bearable :-)

    V useful for me as I could see what was sort of like a cross section of my back - so I could see where the discs were torn. Made it all make sense.
  • SM, I have lived with a spondylolisthesis at L5/S1 for 14 years. Where is yours? If anyone suggests surgery to you, tell them to take a hike! It is most definitely a last resort. By watching your posture during lifting and bending, and strengthening your thigh and stomach muscles, you can escape surgery for life. Pilates is excellent for this.
  • Just had an MRI scan for a L5/S1 disc prolapse / spondylolisthesis;am considering surgery as I have had referred posterior thigh pain for 5 mths. Can you still run and /or compete to any degree Thandiwe? I find running too painful but can have a good work out on the elliptical trainer pain free. The MRI scan itself is not upleasant; I played my own CD but couldolyoccasionally hear it; the most difficult thing I found ws staying awake, as it was at the end of a busy work day!
  • RB, I have occasional "bouts" with my back, when I get pain that can best be described as toothache of the left leg! However, it abates. With proper back management, I have been able to continue life as normal for the most part. At the moment, that injury is the least of my worries, anyway - I seem to have a million others!

    BTW - L5/S1 is about the most common area for back injuries and a spondylolisthesis is dead common, too - especially among people who have done things like dance, gymnastics, diving, figure skating, etc. - all the "bendy" things. There are loads of us about.
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