Weight-bearing MRI of the Lumbar Spine: Spinal Stenosis and Spondylolisthesis.

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Symptoms of degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis include back pain, radiculopathy, claudication, and muscular fatigue that tend to be predominant in the standing position or during walking. Lumbar spondylolisthesis is also a well-known cause of spinal stenosis, lateral recess, and neural foraminal narrowing that tends to become more severe in the upright position. This indicates a functional positional component of both spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis. Lumbar spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis are typically evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) performed in the supine position with a pillow under the patient’s lower limbs that slightly flexes the lumbar spine and ameliorates symptoms. Because these two entities tend to be aggravated in the upright position, it seems rational to also consider performing diagnostic imaging in these patients in the upright position. This article reviews the use of weight-bearing MRI for lumbar spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis.

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