The Value of MRI on Prognosis ...Not!

Reference:McNee P, et al Predictors of long-term pain and disability in patients with low back pain investigated by magnetic resonance imaging: a longitudinal study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2011; 12(1):234.

This recent 2011 longitudinal study looked at whether spinal abnormalities seen on MRI could predict prognosis for low back pain after 18 months. Radiologists blinded to other clinical information assessed MRI scans of 240 patients.

Surprisingly there was a small increased risk of more frequent and disabling LBP in patients with initial evidence of disc degeneration. Most importantly, neither disc bulges nor any other MRI abnormalities predicted patient outcomes in short or long-term.

Personal Comment: I will go as far as saying that meaningless MRI reports may result in poor outcomes due to fact that they often increase patient catastrophization and fear.

I strongly recommend patients who keep focusing on their ‘bad’ MRI to read The Pain Truth book.

Posted on: December 15, 2011

Categories: Lumbar Spine

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