My mom just called me and asked me to look up some information regarding the MRI she had done, and I can't find anything in my books...
She has been having back pain, so she went and had the MRI, here is what they said..
She has degenerative disk changes in L5 and L1 (I think she might mean S1, but maybe not) and she also has a small broad based disk protrusion @ L5 and L1 with disk material abutting the thecal sac??
#1. What the heck is a thecal sac and
#2. What does this mean in terms that I could explain to my mom..
Jan 3, '03
First of all, I am not a neuro nurse, but I've had a couple of back surgeries and am fairly well versed in spinal anatomy. To answer your questions,
1. The thecal sac is the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord and holds the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF is necessary for cushioning the spinal cord and the brain. It also transports nutrients and waste products. The CSF must be able to circulate freely to perform these functions.
2. The MRI demonstrated degenerative changes in her lumbar vertebrae. These changes can occur as the result of an injury, but are usually the result of normal "wear and tear" on the spinal column as we age. The vertebrae have discs between them to cushion the bony surfaces of the vertebrae. The discs are surrounded by a fibrous outer layer that holds the softer cushiony inner portion. Aging or injury also affects the discs, and they sometimes bulge. When they bulge toward the spinal cord, surrounded by the spinal or thecal sac, it can disrupt the circulation of the CSF, or actually press against the spinal cord or one of its roots. This can cause pain in the back as well as down into one or both legs. Numbness or tingling can also occur. The first figure shows the normal and abnormal anatomy of the lumbar spine. The MRI below that shows the bulging disc pressing against the thecal sac.
There are several treatment possibilities. The first treatments are non-surgical or conservative. This involves oral medications to relieve pain and inflammation. Physical therapy may also be beneficial. Another non-surgical treatment is the injection of cortisone into the epidural area. If these treatments are not effective, surgery is often considered.
I hope that your mother doesn't need to have surgery, because it isn't always a good thing either. I hope that this helped some. Here is a website that may help to explain it as well.
Last edit by cbs3143 on Jan 3, '03