REC REF: 14/lo/1846


To investigate whether imaging of lumbar spinal nerves is an optimal technique to diagnose the damage of the compressed nerves and to predict the outcome of the lumbar spinal surgery.


Narrowing of the space within the spine can result in pinching of the nerves and cause pain and weakness in the back or legs. Surgery is often carried out to open up the space to relieve the compression. However, this is sometimes not satisfactory, as many patients are left with the same or worse pain. Patient symptoms, together with an MRI scan are used to help the surgeon decide whether an operation is appropriate. What the scan cannot tell us is how bad the damage to the nerves is. Knowing this might give the surgeon more information to make a decision on whether to carry out the surgery and, also, may allow us to predict the success of the surgery. Our main aim is to develop an imaging technique to help us measure more accurately the narrowing of the space within the spine and the damage to the nerves in the lower spine in people with low back pain.  The information gained from this technique will help to improve the diagnosis and predict the outcome of spinal surgery.