View Full Version : Scary MRI - Has Anyone Seen Anything Like This?

09-14-2011, 07:44 AM

I have s-curve scoliosis with the largest curve in my left thoracic spine (40 degrees as of 10 months ago). I've had minimal pain and limitations for most of my time with scoliosis, except for the last three years. I've gone to doctor after doctor about this (unfortunately I moved to Montreal and don't have a GP...we use walk-in-clinics a lot here because the medical system is so stressed). The typical response has been for dr's to order an x-ray of my spine and then say "yes, you have scoliosis, that can get painful and that is why your back hurts, take an advil" I've never had pain like this before and since it came on so quickly and won't leave, I am convinced something else is going on. It really feels like some of my ribs in the rib hump area have become detached (from whatever they are supposed to be attached to).

Yesterday I caved and went to a private clinic to get an MRI done (so worth the money!). While the clinic will not give me the MRI report directly (I have to get it faxed to a doctor who will go over it with me), they did give me the images from my MRI. Holy batman! My poor spine! I've attached one that is haunting me. It does look like a rib is detached and like all sorts of bad things are going on in the disks and tissue around my rib hump (although of course I am not trained to read these images). I am curious if anyone has seen anything like this before? Have you heard of anyone with scoliosis having ribs detach? I've heard of chiro's fixing dislocated ribs in people with normal spines, but I don't think anyone would want to try it on me....for good reason.

09-14-2011, 11:47 AM
Hi Jane, I have no idea what's going on with your spine and have no experience interpreting MRI's but that image definitely looks as though it's not normal. I hope someone else, perhaps Linda can make some sense of it and I am really curious to find out what you have going on there and that you will meet with your doctor soon. Please keep us posted. I know what you mean about the overloaded medical system here in Canada. I live in British Columbia and my son was on a wait list to see a scoliosis specialist and well, it just never happened so we went elsewhere. Very frustrating.

09-14-2011, 02:13 PM
Hi Jane, try not to panic unduly. The MRI scans take a slice through your spine, but your spine rotates as it curves, so what you can see at the apex of your curve/hump sits further forwards on the scan than the spine above and below it. Thus, what you can see at this level isn't consistent with the rest of the spine and it looks "wrong".

09-15-2011, 08:20 AM
Not sure what you're looking at, but the ribs aren't even visualized I sagittal spine MRIs. To see anything regarding the ribs, I think you have to look at the axial images.

09-15-2011, 05:51 PM
Thank you all for your replies. I will post what I hear back from the doctor. I am more curious now than scared. I have attached another MRI image with an arrow to what looks like a detached rib to me. There are two segments above it look like hooks that are latched on to another bone, but the one with the arrow pointing to it looks like it is not latched on to anything. Are those not ribs?




loves to skate
09-15-2011, 09:14 PM
The ribs don't show up in the sagittal images as Linda said. You are looking at vertebrae, spinal cord, ligaments and nerve roots if I am not mistaken. This is why you need a Doctor to explain it to you. Try not to worry. I wish my MRI looked as good as yours does.

09-16-2011, 07:50 AM
Hi there,

I wanted to reiterate what Tonibunny said, as she is right on. The MRI view you posted is a single slice straight down through the spine. Since your spine is curved, the view you posted does not show a representational view down the entire spine. All that you are seeing is that your spine has a curve in it. It looks strange because the slice you posted then does not run all the way down the center of the spine, since the scoliosis curves and rotates off the center line.

The things you are asking about are not ribs, they are spinous processes. Again, they look different because the MRI is looking straight down one plane of the spine, and so where your spine curves and rotates away from center, it visualizes an uneven slice. That is why it looks odd. but it doesn't mean anything is grossly wrong.

Please do not worry, and do try to get the radiologist's report. I am sure it will put your mind at ease.

green m&m
09-21-2011, 09:30 PM
What you think are ribs are spinous processes. As others have said, on sagittal sections ribs are not visualized. The only time ribs can be visualized in a sagittal section is with a chest MRI, which takes scan of the whole width of your chest, not just the spine and few cmís around the spine.

To me your MRI looks Ďnormalí for someone with scoliosis. Iíve had countless MRIs at this point for non-scoli reasons and mine looks worse than yours.