This page describes the diagnostic methods used to help determine the best available treatment plan for your condition.

Dynamic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

New to Bristol Dynamic/Functional MRI allows one to image the spine under the natural effects of gravity and in the position of pain. Previously, other imaging modalities have either removed gravity creating an unnatural state or compromised by providing indirect images. This technology allows the spine surgeon and other specialists to tackle problems directly. This type of MRI is also great for those with claustrophobia. This physician led technology acquisition represents a major advance for Northeast Tennessee and has unrealized potential

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRI images tissues of the body by use of a large magnet. These images allow for visualization of soft tissue structures like disc, ligament, and blood vessels in addition to bone. The exam is noninvasive but does require the patient to lie still.


X-ray allows for an understand of alignment of the spine and allows for imaging while the spine is in different positions. This gives the surgeon a clearer understanding of the stability of the spine.

CT Myelogram

An invasive way to image the spine. Dye is used injected into the epidural space for contrast. Then CT scan of the spine is performed. This allows for 3D images of the bony structures of the spine as well as visualization of nerve roots as they exit the spinal column.

Nerve Conduction Velocity/EMG Studies

This invasive testing uses electrical currents to evaluate nerve compression and injury. These exams are performed by a neurologist or physiatrist.


A noninvasive test that allows for evaluation of nerve compression without being as uncomfortable as EMG studies.

Neural Scanner

A needle-less study that localizes pain by evaluating the action potentials of “A-Delta” pain fibers.

Bone Scan

This exam uses dye that targets areas of inflammation in the bones of the body. It is commonly used to evaluate fractures and infections.

Bone Densiometry/DEXA Scan

DEXA Scan evaluates the density of the bone. The exam focuses on the femur and lumbar spine. It allows for diagnosis of osteopenia and osteoporosis and helps the spine surgeon to evaluate bone stock quality for instrumentation purposes.

Spinal Scoliosis

spineScoliosisSpinal Scoliosis is a lateral, or sideways curvature and rotation of the back bones (vertebrae), giving the appearance that the person is leaning to one side.
It can limit a persons ability to move normally. It can also bring on pain and reduced ability to breathe if a misshapen rib cage restricts normal lung growth.

The topics presented here are for informational purposes only. They are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice and information provided by your health care provider. Any decision you make regarding your health care options should be made after consulting a qualified physician.