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Radiology/S/P fusion and MRI


Hi. I had a fusion in 1983 from T3 to L2 with stainless steel rods and wires- this was pre titanium and screws era- and now I have chronic LBP and it extends down the buttock and even the hips. I can literally only walk 50 feet before the pain stops me. I work full time now, but only because it is a very slow, sedentary job. Everytime I have gone for an MRI, starting in 1990, I have felt severe heat in my back and a pulling sensation. One imaging center refuses to perform any more MRI's on me. My physiatrist wants me to have another of my hips and shoulder (took a bad fall- probable rotater cuff tear, bursitis) but I am very concerned about the possibility of damage. What's the REAL answer regarding MRI and these very old rods and wires? Also, he sent me for a surgical consult and the surgeon immediately wanted to fuse me to the sacrum. However, I have osteopenia and he wants to remove part of the old rods and attach new ones to the sacrum and open up the vertabrae- some narrowing and Grade 1 slippage... I am afraid my weak bones may break... and what will he attach it to if my bones are osteoporotic? I declined the surgery and am considering disability and living with the pain in poverty. Please give me your opinion/ Many thanks.

Hi, Robin,

I am SO sorry for your troubles.

If I were you, I would NOT have any more MRIs. You obviously have ferrous material in your back. It is not safe for you to have MRI.

There are many conditions that prevent patients from having MRI: pacemakers, pain pumps, aneurysm clips in the brain, etc... So you are not alone. Your physician needs to find another way to image your anatomy. I'd recommend either a CT or a shoulder arthrogram.

Hope this helps,


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Delia White


I am not qualified to interpret diagnostic imaging or to diagnose disease. Please consult a physician for that information. I am the photographer. I can tell you what to expect during most MRI, CT and X-ray procedures.


I now have more than 30 years experience in diagnostic imaging. My specialty is MRI. I am also very familiar with CT and the way we used to take x-rays (everything's digital now)!

I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Radiologic Technology.

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