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Spine and Back Health

Multi-level degenerative disc disease, M

06/13/2002

Question:

Greetings:

I am a reference librarian at a public librarian, and I had a patron come in with her MRI report. Her physician would not explain the findings to her, and she wanted us to translate it into plain English for her. So, I am turning to an expert:

Her MRI of the Thoracic spine says: Impression: 1. Multi-level degenerative disc disease most prominent at T8-9 where focal soft disc protrusion is seen and this extends superiorly and inferiorly and produces mild to moderate sac and cord compression with mild central canal compromise.

1)She wants to know what this says in plain English, and 2)also wants to know "What parts of the body or function of the body does T8-9 affect? For example, could it affect range of motion in her arms, or turning her back from side to side? Could it affect her legs or feet?

The whole MRI reads as follows: MRI of the Thoracic Spine Without Contrast Findings: There is no evidence of destructive marrow disease. Some scattered hemangiomas are shown. No intrinsic cord pathology is seen.

The T1-2 and T2-3 are not remarkable. There is anterior spur at T3-4 and T4-5. The T5-6 level also shows some anterior spur. The T6-7 level demonstrates a small focal spur/disc centrally and to the right with mild sac and cord effacement. The T7-8 level is desiccated and there is a small focal central protrusion, which could be partially calcified seen at T7-8 with mild sac effacement and no cord compression. The T8-9 level is desiccated also and a small focal soft disc protrusion is seen centrally and to the right producting mild to moderate sac and cord compression with mild central canal compromise overall. The T9-T10 level through the T12-L1 level are not remarkable. The foramina are all patent.

Impression: Multi-level degenerative disc disease most prominent at T8-9 where focal soft disc protrusion is seen and this extends superiorly and inferiorly and produces mild to moderate sac and cord compression with mild cental canal compromise.

MRI of the Lumbar Spine Without Contrast Findings: There is no evidence of destructive marrow disease. The conus is not remarkable. Minor degenerative changes are seen anteriorly at T12-L1. The L1-2 level is unremarkable. The L2-3 level is desiccated and a mild annular disc bulge is seen with minimal sac effacement. The foramina are patent. The L3-4 level shows partial disc desiccation and is otherwise not remarkable. The L4-5 level also shows partial disc desiccation, ligamentous hypertrophy, mild facet overgrowth and arthritis with the lateral recesses being only mildly stenotic. The L5-S1 level demonstrates disc desiccation and a tiny focal soft disc protrusion is seen centrally that does not produce neural compression. There is facet arthritis bilaterally and the lateral recesses are clear. The foraminal are mildly stenotic without root compression.

She is confused and upset and just needs to know what this says in language she can understand.

Thank you so much for your help.

Answer:

It sounds like you`re asking for a specific diagnosis, which is more than I can provide online. Only a detailed history and physical exam by a healthcare professional can provide enough information to make a specific diagnosis. Please discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider.

For more information:

Go to the Spine and Back Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Anthony Guanciale, MD
Associate Professor and Director, Division of Spine Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati