MRI results. Help explaining into layman terms!


So to begin a quick history. Oct 2018 I had laminectomy bilateral L5-S1 as well as decompression microdiscectomy. Pain persisted and was passed onto pain clinic who thought my issue was adhesive arachnoiditis scar tissue. He believes the surgery was a failure. He ordered a new MRI which I received the report today. It will be a while until I get in to have this explained to me and am hopeful to anyone on here with some knowledge of medical terms to just what this MRI is showing. Here is report.

L4-L5: mild diffuse annular disc buldging with left formiminal annular fissure. There is impingement of bilateral L5 traversing nerve roots. Moderate hypertrophic facet arthropathy is seen.

L5-S1: there is moderate diffuse annular disc buldging with enhancement with the posterior and left paracentral disc, in keeping with post operative scar tissue. A left paracentral and foraminal disc osteophyte complex resulting in mass effect on the left L5 exiting nerve. There is contact of the posterior disc with bilateral traversing nerve roots probably with impingement of the right S1 traversing nerve root. There is moderate bilateral facet arthropathy.

If anyone can please shed some light on this I would be very grateful. My GP has made a request to the original surgeon to see me again as he doesn’t believe another neurosurgeon will want to touch me with previous failed back surgery. Believes a possible second surgery necessary possibly with fusion? Thoughts?

Thank you all for any input, thoughts or encouragement!





  • LfiveSone

    Per Rule 4.04

     Do not ask Forum members for medical advice, medical analysis or the interpretation of diagnostic tests.

    Bad advice ..advice given with the best of intentions but wrong could lead to confusion about everyones unique conditions -and that only the PCP of that person would have the training and expertise to answer.

    No one here is qualified to interpret the findings your honestly seeking answers for.

  • I have looked at a lot of these reports from the many scans that I have had, what I have learned from it is this, it's best for me to not even look at the report. My surgeon explained it this way, a radiologist is trained to look at a scan and report every thing that he sees, just because it is in the report does not mean that any of it is causing your problem. I understand wanting to know, I would too, but nobody here is qualified to help you with the report.

    Take care


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  • L4_L5LL4_L5 Posts: 1,234
    edited 02/21/2020 - 6:22 PM

    This is my experience as well. Only the experts can differentiate between incidental findings on an MRI versus something of significance that’s generating pain. 

    Furthermore, in my experience, a neurologist is more likely to read your report line by line and jump to conclusions. On the other hand, in my experience, a good neurosurgeon oftentimes won’t even read the report and simply use his or her own visual judgment when reviewing your MRI.

    If three or four neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons review my MRI and they’re all in agreement that there’s nothing surgical on my MRI (despite nasty 24/7 chronic pain) and that the pain may be coming from somewhere else, then I’m inclined to believe they may be right.

    I know a guy in his 80s who thought he hurt his hip when he really hurt his back. The pain started in his hip and leg and didn’t hurt in his low back until later on. 

    The body is a tricky thing. 


  • As I can appreciate the rules and regs put in place on this site and others giving advise not to say anything, from my perspective, I don’t have many other options as my next appt isn’t until October 15th with specialist to go over results. Over 7 months from now. Not only is this infuriating as I’m off work over 1.5 years already, I need some sort of idea of what the future holds for me. I’m only 43, have two kids and a wife to take care of and to have my life put on hold and in excruciating pain daily to the point where my pain has got me in deep depression. 

    The Canadian health care system, while is great that it’s free (although we’re taxed to death) is very very slow when it comes to matters as this. 

    I would never hold anyone accountable for any advice or opinions on what the mri reads, I’m only looking for laymen’s terms to see what I’m dealing with.

    Knowing this is just a forum for people who have gone through similar experiences I am only asking for some help in understanding these medical terms. Thanks to anyone who can reach out.


  • I’d be demanding an appmt before October. Waiting eight months is unacceptable.
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  • I really wish I was able to help you, but as I said before, I don't even look at my reports anymore because when I did, I would convince myself there was a problem, when I got to the doctor, I was always wrong, even if there weren't rules I still wouldn't comment because of those reasons.

    Please call the specialist, get put on the cancelation list, tell them you simply can't wait that long.

    Take care and keep us posted


  • Yes, I have called and requested to be put on the cancellation list. Have left messages for the specialist. My GP has requested the original surgeon review this most recent MRI as he believes a 2nd surgery is necessary. My dr gave me higher doses of Hydromorphone and had basically told me I need to wait. This isn’t a life anymore. Waiting 7-8 months for dr appt in chronic pain. Thinking of traveling to USA and paying for private health care.

  • I am really sorry you are dealing with all this, nobody should have to wait that long to be seen when they are in pain.

    Hang in there, hopefully there will be a cancellation.


  • @LfiveSone

     This isn’t a life anymore. Waiting 7-8 months for dr appt in chronic pain. Thinking of traveling to USA and paying for private health care.
    There is a new article out today on Canadian health care. Can’t post the link per rules.. Google the phrase “Canadian Health Care: A warning, not a beacon” to find it.

    Here’s a snippet from the article:

    “Seeing a specialist can take a shockingly long time. One doctor in Ontario called in a referral for a neurologist and was told there was a four-and-a-half year waiting list. A 16-year-old boy in British Columbia waited three years for an urgent surgery, during which his condition worsened and he was left a paraplegic. One Montreal man finally got the call for his long-delayed urgent surgery, but it came two months after he had died.

    Canadians have found a way to escape the rationing, the long waits and substandard equipment. They go to the United States.

    Every year, more than 50,000 Canadians fly to get their surgeries here (United States) because they can get high-quality care and fast treatment at a reasonable price. They willingly pay cash for care that, for the vast majority of Americans, is covered by insurance, private or public.”

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