Radiology/MRI results


I recently had an MRI an no one ever tells you exactly what the results mean they just say whether or not you need surgery. If you could please give me an idea what my report actually means i would appreciate it.

MRI Report: At the L3-L4 level there is a prominent broad-based disc herniation measuring 6-7 mm in AP dimension(what does 6-7mm mean?)With facet and ligamentum flavum hypertrophic changes(don't understand)This severely narrows the central spinal canal, subtotally effacing the thecal sac(What is sub-totally effacing mean, and what is the importance)from the canal at this level. There is moderate left-sided and moderately severe right-sided neural foraminal narrowing at this level.(??)

It seems to say a lot and I have no idea what each finding means.


Hi, Gary.

You have a herniated disc between the third and fourth lumbar vertebra, right about your waist level. It extends 6-7 millimeters into the spinal canal. This bulge may be pressing on some nerves.

Hypertrophic changes means that there are some abnormal or degenerate changes happening in your spine. In your case, that would be the severe narrowing of the spinal canal and narrowing of the neural foramina.

Neural foramina are the bony openings of the spine through which the nerve roots pass as they leave the spinal canal. Yours appear to be narrowing, more on the right than the left. Narrow foramina can also press on the nerves as they exit the spinal canal.

I'm guessing your neurosurgeon will try to repair the disk and open up your foramina to relieve the pressure on your nerve roots, which should help eliminate your back pain.

If you still don't understand your MRI report to your satisfaction, please ask your surgeon to explain it to you. If he or she can't or won't take the time to answer all of your questions, get a second opinion. You deserve to have all your questions answered and to completely understand what procedures your surgery will include.

Remember, a surgeon makes money by performing surgery. It's in his/her best interest to schedule surgery for you. If you have any second thoughts about having surgery, get a second opinion. Having surgery is no guarantee that you will be pain free. Sometimes it works wonders, and sometimes patients experience no improvement.

Remember that I am only the photographer. I am not qualified to diagnose or treat illness. I hope I have helped you in some small way.

Best of luck to you,


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.