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Radiology/ligamentum flavum in low back


I had a CT scan perfomed that showed
'at L4-5, there was mild hypertrophy of the ligamenta flava and mild broad-based posterior disc bulge.  There was mild narrowing of the L4-5 spinal foramina on the right, and the exiting L4 nerve root is mildly contacted posteriorly.

At L5-S1, hypertropy changes of the ligamenta flava is also identified.  There is mild narrowing of the spinal foramina, a result of the generous size ligamenta flava.  There is mild contacting of the exiting L5 nerve root posterior by the ligamentum flavum at this site'.

Howerver, then an MRI was performed at a different location and it said 'no adnormalities identified' at the levels above.   Could you please comment on whether this is possible?  As I thought if something is seen in an CT shouldn't an MRI see if more clearly?

Thank you.


You are absolutely correct that MRI should pick up everything that CT does in terms of the findings listed in your question.  However, what is the likely cause of report discrepancy is the sensitivity of a radiologist who is making it.  The mild degree of hypertrophy and mild bulge and mild etc...seems insignificant and I can certainly tell you that spine findings and their degree are highly subjective.  One person may describe everything that is on the picture while the other reports things that are likely to be an issue.  Lots of things in the spine have absolutely no clinical correlation or significance unless you, the patient, reports certain specific symptoms.

Hope this helps.

Michael K


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Michael K.


Almost any kind of questions regarding any types of radiology exams, procedures, meaning of radiology reports etc...


12 year experience in the field of radiology

American Society of Neuroradiology, Senior Member Society of Pediatric Radiology, Active Member

Radiology Seminars in pediatric neurology American Journal of Roentgenology American Journal of Neuroradiology

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