What Is MRI Examination Of The Spine?

MRI examination (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the spine will produce clear images of the spine in various planes with the aid of a computer. MRI uses a magnetic field and radio frequency to produce images of the spine. The magnetic field and radio frequency do not use ionising radiation.

How Can I Get This Examination Done And Where?

  • The doctor you are seeing will decide if you need the examination.
  • If necessary, the doctor will make a request using Request Form For Radiological Examination. Your doctor will also complete an MRI checklist form. This examination is available in selected Ministry of Health hospitals.

Reasons For MRI Examination Of The Spine

  • The main reasons for MRI spine are;

– Tumour

– Spinal cord problem

– Disc bulge (herniated nucleus pulposus)

– Spinal stenosis

– Spondylitis

What Is The Preparation For MRI Spine?

  • When the appointment date is being given, the instructions that need to be followed will be explained to you, such as:

– Nil by mouth for 4-6 hours before the examination.

– Plain water is allowed.

– Take medication (steroid) if necessary.

  • Please inform your doctor or radiographer if you have history of:

– Asthma

– Allergy to seafood or medicine such as itchiness, rashes or swelling.

  • If you are on medication, please get your doctor’s advice.
  • Please inform your doctor and radiographer if you are pregnant or you may be pregnant.

On the day of examination

  • Present yourself at the registration counter.

Before examination

  • You will need to change into a hospital gown that will be provided.
  • You will need to remove metallic objects including jewellery, hair pin, wrist-watch, hearing aids, pen, spectacles and ATM or credit cards, etc. This is to avoid damage to the items and also the image quality.
  • Please inform your doctor if you have metallic joint prosthesis, clips or pins used in brain surgery and cardiac pacemaker which will be affected by a strong magnetic field. The examination may need to be postponed or cancelled if you have any of these items.
  • Your personal items / valuables are your own responsibility. You are advised not bring any valuables with you on the examination day.
  • Please inform your doctor and / or the radiographer if you are pregnant or may be pregnant.
  • Please inform your doctor or the radiographer if you have a history of asthma, allergy to seafood, medicines etc.
  • You will be asked if you have prepared yourself for the examination as instructed when you were being given the appointment.
mri_spine_1  mri_tulang_belakang_2

Picture 1: MRI Machine


Picture 2: Image of MRI Spine


During examination

  • An MRI spine examination will take between 30 – 60 minutes.
  • You will be asked to lie down on the examination couch which will then be moved into the MRI bore.
  • If you are claustrophobic you may need sedation.
  • You need to relax and keep still during the examination to avoid a repeat examination.
  • Contrast medium will be injected through a vein in your hand or arm (if necessary).
  • During the examination, you will hear a loud repetitive noise produced by the MRI machine. The table will be also moved forward and backward. You need not worry.
  • Images of the spine that are acquired will be displayed on the computer monitor.

After examination

  • You may feel dizzy when getting up after the examination due to prolonged lying down.
  • You may change back into your clothing.
  • The needle used for injecting contrast medium (if any) will be removed.
  • You will be allowed to leave the department.

Examination Report

  • Images acquired during the examination will be viewed by a radiologist who will then report the examination.



Last Reviewed : 5 January 2017
Translator : Daud bin Ismail
Accreditor : Irene Tong Lee Kew