Enhanced MRI reveals nerves that cause pain
April 18, 1997
Web posted at: 10:02 p.m. EDT (0202 GMT)
From Correspondent Dan Rutz
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Carole White is relieved to find medical
proof for the continuous pain she feels in her fingers, hands
It comes from a fine-tuned kind of MRI, or magnetic resonance
imaging, which is like a high-tech X-ray. The enhanced MRI
sets the stage for other carefully targeted tests and
treatment, giving White the first hope she's had in years.
"It means that, at the risk of sounding maudlin, I have a
chance at having a normal life back," White said. "This has
severely impacted on my life. I haven't been able to work. I
have an infant -- I can't care for him."
Dr. Aaron Filler, a neurosurgeon at the University of
California-Los Angeles, made adjustments to the MRI to reveal
inner-body structures that, outside of surgery, had been
"Of all the different tissues in the body, we haven't been
able to image nerves very well," Filler said.
And in some cases of chronic pain, not being able see what's
wrong can lead to guesswork. Morris Levitt, 84, underwent
seven back operations and still suffered relentless pains
down one leg.
"They were taking me seriously but ... I think they were
stumbling quite a bit along the way," Levitt said of his
With the enhanced MRI, Filler is able to find the offending
nerve and recommend treatment that may be far removed from
the part of the body most doctors would aim for first.
The enhanced imaging reveals irritated nerves as bright spots
that draw the eye to muscles or other structures which may be
injuring the nerve and causing the pain.
Filler hopes the new technology will take the guesswork out
of diagnosis and treatment.
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