Radio diagnosis

The researches find that the A new MRI scanning technique for analysing degenerated spinal discs improves accuracy from 70% using current methods to 97%, raising hope of better diagnoses of back pain. Because The exact causes of an individual’s back pain may be better understood after UNSW Sydney researchers improved the accuracy of MRI scans of spinal discs using a new technique they call ‘decay variance’. Therefore In a paper published today in JOR Spine, the researchers show how they captured spinal disc degeneration in rabbits using the new decay variance technique; where they achieved an accuracy rate of 97%.

New MRI scanning technique

In other words, when they compared the image of the disc with the actual disc in a post-mortem examination; the actual disc matched the image 97% of the time. Using traditional MRI methods (called T2 weighted MRI); but the images are find to match the actual discs only 70% of the time. Pain, in the sense of physical pain; is a typical sensory experience that may be described as the unpleasant awareness of a noxious stimulus or bodily harm. Individuals experience pain by various daily hurts and aches, and sometimes through more serious injuries or illnesses.

For scientific and clinical purposes, pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”. Therefore Study lead author Dr. Kyle Sheldrick; from UNSW Medicine’s St. George & Sutherland Clinical School, says the results are promising and may enable doctors and radiologists to more accurately pinpoint the cause and location of a patient’s back pain.

Potential tissue damage

“Back pain affects about one in six Australians but in 95% of cases, doctors (including me and my co-authors) can’t find any cause;” Dr. Sheldrick says.”This not only makes it very hard to treat individual patients; but also makes it very hard to find new cures for back pain. “Experts think degeneration of the spinal discs is a cause of back pain but current tests for disc degeneration don’t work very well. Patients with discs that look healthy on MRI often have severe back pain; and patients with discs that look very degenerate on T2 MRI often have no back pain; so better technology is needed.”

Senior author Dr. Ashish Diwan; who is an orthopaedic surgeon at St. George Hospital; says while MRIs have been especially helpful in creating pictures of soft tissues that don’t show up on X-ray examinations; but  the technology itself is not perfect. “Most people wouldn’t realise that what the MRI produces in images is not necessarily an exact representation of what is actually going on in a patient;” Dr. Diwan says. “Now for the first time we’ve been able to demonstrate that MRI technology still has considerable room for improvement and we’ve shown how it can be done.”