Utility of Repeat MRI in Patients With Degenerative Cervical Disease

Grant R. McChesney, Michael C. Poliner, John C. Heymann, Ronald W. Lindsey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Existing guidelines regarding indications for initial cervical spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) do not indicate when to perform repeat MRI in patients with previously documented degenerative disease. This study evaluates the efficacy of repeat MRI in patients with previously diagnosed degenerative cervical disease. Between 2013 and 2018, 153 patients (102 women, 51 men; mean age, 55 years; range, 19-81 years) without a history of trauma or surgery underwent cervical spine MRI 2 or more times at our institution indicated for symptoms of neck pain with or without radiculopathy. The MRI reports of repeat studies were reviewed and compared with index studies for notable changes. Notable radiographic changes were defined as any progression of the existing degenerative disease. Fifty-three of 153 (35%) patients demonstrated progression on repeat MRI. Forty-nine of the 53 patients demonstrating progression had new or worsening symptoms prior to their follow-up study (P=.03). Twenty-nine of 35 (83%) patients with new or worsening radiculopathy progressed on MRI (P<.01). Nine of 10 (90%) patients with new upper motor neuron findings demonstrated progression (P=.01). Axial neck pain alone was not statistically linked to MRI progression (P=.1). Twenty-five (16.3%) patients underwent operative management for their disease. Only 12 (48.0%) of the surgical patients presented MRI progression (P=.1).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-102
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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