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Medical Tourism Guide

Spine Surgery Guide

Exams and Tests for a Herniated Disc

Initial examination
Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms of leg and back pain using a medical history and physical examination. Your diagnosis will be based on any features that point to irritation of one or more spinal nerves and to the loss of strength, sensation, or reflexes that are normally associated with the nerve or nerves. If your medical history and physical examination suggest you have a herniated disc, you will probably not need additional tests during your first medical visit. Follow-up tests sometimes used Imaging tests may help confirm a diagnosis of a herniated disc or may be needed when nonsurgical treatment has not worked to relieve pain. If you still have symptoms after 4 weeks of nonsurgical treatment, your doctor may recommend imaging tests. If the results of an imaging test are not expected to change a treatment decision, the test is probably not needed.
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  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be done to confirm a diagnosis as well as the location and severity of a herniated disc or to look for another serious condition, such as an infection or tumor. An MRI provides detailed images of the soft tissues of the spine, such as the muscles, spinal nerves, tendons, ligaments, discs, and the softer inner part (marrow) of the bones of the spine.

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan may be done to help confirm a diagnosis as well as the location and severity of a herniated disc and to look for any other problems in the bones of the spine. This test may be done if you cannot have an MRI (for example, if you have a pacemaker) or if the results of an MRI are not clear. A CT scan can provide detailed images of bony structures of the spine.
  • An MRI is generally preferred over a CT scan for diagnosing a suspected herniated disc in the lower back (lumbar spine).

  • X-rays generally are not useful or needed for diagnosing a herniated disc. But if your medical history and physical exam suggest a more serious condition (such as a tumor, infection, fracture, or severe nerve damage), or if your leg pain and other symptoms do not get better after 4 weeks of nonsurgical treatment, your doctor may order X-rays. Other tests, such as blood tests, may be done to rule out other conditions.

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
Always consult your doctor about your medical conditions or back problem. We Care Health Services does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the site is conditional upon your acceptance of our Terms and Conditions is a member of the medical tourism information network

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