An MRI can be performed on any part of your body. However, a lumbar MRI specifically examines the lumbar section of your spine-an area where back problems commonly originate.

The lumbar spine is made up of five vertebral bones, the sacrum (the bony “shield” at the bottom of your spine), and the coccyx (tailbone). In addition to bones, the lumbar spine is comprised of large blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

Your doctor will use an MRI scan to better diagnose or treat problems with your spine. Your condition could be caused by injury-related pain, disease, infection, or other factors. Your doctor might order a lumbar MRI scan if you have the following symptoms:

  • back pain accompanied by fever
  • birth defects affecting the spine
  • injury to the lower spine
  • lower back pain
  • multiple sclerosis
  • problems with your bladder
  • signs of cancer
  • weakness, numbness, or other problems with your legs

Your doctor might also perform a lumbar MRI if you are scheduled for spinal surgery, so that he or she can plan the procedure before making an incision.

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