Second Opinion on MRI

Today, the NY Times reported that not all MRI’s are the same (“The Scan That Didn’t Scan”, Gina Kolata’t%20scan&st=cse). Ms. Kolata reports that she and a colleague, James Glanz, suffered sports related injuries and were referred for MRIs. Both were negative. However, their pain didn’t go away and they sought second opinions. The second MRIs for both showed significant damage. How is this possible? There are 10,000,000 MRIs performed in this country annually, and the machines vary enormously. Apparently, if the machine is  several generations old it is less sensitive than the best machines developed today, resulting in poor images. “It’s like the difference between a black-and-white TV and HDTV”, said Dr. John G. Kennedy, an orthopedist who specializes in sports-related lower-limb injuries. Another explanation for the difference between the first and second MRIs may be the skill of the radiologist who is reading the images. Dr. Howard P. Forman, Professor of Diagnostic Radiology at Yale University School of Medicine, said, “If you say, ‘Who will be reading my scan?’ and they say, ‘One of our radiologists’, you don’t go to a place like that”. Just like nearly every medical specialty, there are subspecialties. For musculoskeletal injuries, there are expert radiologists to read these scans. The bottom line is, if you are told nothing is wrong because a scan was negative, and you continue to have symptoms, you should seek a second opinion.


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One Response to “Second Opinion on MRI”

  1. Felicia February 12, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    Ive had 3 MRI’s within a year. 2 were within a week. All are soooo different! They vary significantly with what they say. I am at my wits end trying to figure out whats wrong with me and have honesty given up on the medical profession and I was a successful RN before I became unable to work due to pain in my back, mostly in my butt that radiates down my leg. Im sick of having MRIs and have no faith in them anymore. I even sought a second opinion on one MRI and their report reported less than the original.

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