Dr. Andrew Arnold, Chiropractor explains plain film x-ray, MRI is and CT imaging.
He goes on to talk about the conditions suited to each, costs to you as a patient and who can refer you.
Dr. Andrew Arnold’s goal is to help clarify if you need to have one of these tests.
In practice, I rarely recommend a CT or MRI. I commonly recommend plain film x-ray, in fact, every new patient over the age of 14yrs (not pregnant or with any serious diseases) gets a referral for a full spine plain film x-ray.
A full spine x-ray provides a view of the overall structure of the spine and pelvis. It shows the degree of distortion, normal and abnormal curves, congenital anomalies, and potential pathologies such as tumors, soft tissue masses etc. Everyone has a distortion pattern and what’s important it knowing this pattern as a guide to Chiropractic adjustment or manipulation. Like I say to all my patients, it’s like google maps or Melways of the spine, helping light up the runway and enables both myself and the patient see clearly where we’re heading.
CT or CAT scan uses x-rays similar to plain film. This is where you are slid thru a donut type hole.
A CT scan enables us to see the disc in more detail and differentiates between a bulge and protrusion.
An MRI uses a magnetic process instead of X-rays. The machine looks similar, however; with an MRI you will hear a loud knocking sound as the magnets revolve around the donut. An MRI looks beyond the disc showing the spinal cord, nerves and the fluid around the cord, as well as the disc.
At Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre we choose GIG, Cranbourne as our radiology center of choice.
Plain films are covered fully by Medicare, i.e. bulk billed with a Chiropractic or GP referral; CT can only be referred by a GP, with some out of pocket costs or possibly fully bulk billed depending on the GP; MRI, in general, incurs out of pocket costs although some Medical centers may bulk bill.
There are specific criteria for referring to each of these tests.
Plain films are ordered with simple, uncomplicated back pain; CT with referred pain down the arms or legs and more severe back pain; MRI as above, plus bowel or bladder symptoms, numbness and weakness in the lower limbs, incapacitating pain. With the latter, patients are generally managed by orthopaedic or neurosurgeons at this stage, in which case the MRI’s are fully bulk billed.
Some people request these additional tests simply for peace of mind.
I hope this has answered some of your questions.
For more information go to www.cranbournefamilychiro.com.au
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor from Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Ctr.