Abnormal MRI of the Lumbar Spine without Back Pain

Christoph I. Lee

in 50 Imaging Studies Every Doctor Should Know

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2016 | ISBN: 9780190223700
Published online September 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190223731 | DOI:

Series: Fifty Studies Every Doctor Should Know

Abnormal MRI of the Lumbar Spine without Back Pain

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  • Primary Care
  • Clinical Radiology


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This chapter, found in the back pain section of the book, provides a succinct synopsis of a key study examining incidental findings on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine in patients without back pain. This summary outlines the study methodology and design, major results, limitations and criticisms, related studies and additional information, and clinical implications. The study showed that many people without back pain have disk bulges or protrusions on imaging of the lumbar spine, but that these findings are frequently coincidental and should not necessarily lead to further tests or interventions. In addition to outlining the most salient features of the study, a clinical vignette and imaging example are included in order to provide relevant clinical context.

Chapter.  993 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Primary Care ; Clinical Radiology

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