MRI Cervical Spine - CAM 741

Policy 
INDICATIONS FOR CERVICAL SPINE MRI
(Combination requests at end of the document)

For evaluation of neurologic deficits
(Acharya, 2019; ACR, 2013; NASS, 2010; Stolper, 2017; Teoli, 2021)

  • With any of the following new neurological deficits documented on physical exam
    • Extremity muscular weakness
    • Pathologic (e.g., Babinski, Lhermitte's sign, Chaddock Sign, Hoffman’s) or abnormal reflexes
    • Absent/decreased sensory changes along a particular cervical dermatome (nerve distribution): pin prick, touch, vibration, proprioception, or temperature
    • Upper or lower extremity increase muscle tone/spasticity
    • New onset bowel or bladder dysfunction (e.g., retention or incontinence)
    • Gait abnormalities (see Table 1 for more details)
  • Suspected cord compression with any neurological deficits as listed above

For evaluation of neck pain with any of the following
(Allegri, 2016; AANSCNS, 2014; Jarvik, 2015)

  • With new or worsening objective neurologic deficits on exam
  • Failure of conservative treatment* for at least six (6) weeks within the last six (6) months (ACR, 2013; Eubanks, 2010)
  • With progression or worsening of symptoms during the course of conservative treatment*
  • With an abnormal electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction study (if performed) indicating a cervical radiculopathy. (EMG is not recommended to determine the cause of axial lumbar, thoracic, or cervical spine pain (NASS, 2013))
  • Isolated neck pain in pediatric population (ACR, 2016) – conservative care not required if red flags present (see combination request below thoracic and lumbar spine may also be indicated)
    • Red flags that prompt imaging should include the presence of the following: age 5 or younger, constant pain, pain lasting >4 weeks, abnormal neurologic examination, early morning stiffness and/or gelling; night pain that prevents or disrupts sleep; radicular pain; fever; weight loss; malaise; postural changes (e.g., kyphosis or scoliosis); and limp (orrefusal to walk in a younger child <5yo) AND initial radiographs have been performed (Bernstein, 2007; Feldman, 2006)
    • Neck pain associated with suspected inflammation, infection, or malignancy 

As part of initial post-operative/procedural evaluation ("CT best examination to assess for hardware complication, extent of fusion" [ACR, 2015; Rao, 2018] and MRI for cord, nerve root compression, disc pathology or post-op infection)

  • For preoperative evaluation/planning
  • CSF leak highly suspected and supported by patient history and/or physical exam findings (leak (known or suspected spontaneous (idiopathic) intracranial hypotension (SIH), post lumbar puncture headache, post spinal surgery headache, orthostatic headache, rhinorrhea or otorrhea, or cerebrospinal-venous fistula))
  • A follow-up study may be needed to help evaluate a patient’s progress after treatment, procedure, intervention, or surgery in the last 6 months. Documentation requires a medical reason that clearly indicates why additional imaging is needed for the type and area(s) requested (routine surveillance post-op not indicated without symptoms)
  • Changing neurologic status post-operatively
  • Surgical infection as evidenced by signs/symptoms, laboratory, or prior imaging findings
  • Residual or new neurological deficits or symptoms (Rao, 2018); see neurological deficit section above
  • When combo requests are submitted (e.g., MRI and CT of the spine), the office notes should clearly document the need for both studies to be done simultaneously (e.g., the need for both soft tissue and bony anatomy is required) (Fisher, 2013)
    • Combination requests where both cervical spine CT and MRI cervical spine are both approvable (not an all-inclusive list): 
      • OPLL (Ossification of posterior longitudinal ligament)(Choi, 2011)
      • Pathologic or complex fractures
      • Malignant process of spine with both bony and soft tissue involvement
      • Unstable craniocervical junction
      • Clearly documented indication for bony and soft tissue abnormality where assessment will change management (i.e., surgical approach) for the patient

For evaluation of suspected myelopathy
(ACR, 2015; Behrbalk, 2013; Davies, 2018; Sarbu, 2010; Vilaca, 2016)

  • Does NOT require conservative care
  • Progressive symptoms including hand clumsiness, worsening handwriting, difficulty with grasping and holding objects, diffuse numbness in the hands, pins and needles sensation, increasing difficulty with balance and ambulation
  • Any of the neurological deficits as noted above

For evaluation of known or suspected multiple sclerosis (MS)
(ACR, 2015; CSMS, 2018; Filippi, 2016; Kaunzner, 2017)

  • Evidence of MS on recent baseline Brain MRI
  • Suspected or known pediatric demyelinating diseases (MS/ADEM)
  • Suspected or known MS with new or changing symptoms consistent with cervical spinal cord disease (focal neurologic deficit or clinical sign, e.g., Lhermitte sign)
  • Combination studies MS (Barakat, 2015)
    • Cervical and/or Thoracic MRI for evaluation of suspected multiple sclerosis (MS) when Brain MRI does not fulfill diagnostic criteria (Filippi, 2016)
    • Cervical and/or Thoracic MRI with suspected transverse myelitis - with appropriate clinical symptoms (e.g., bilateral weakness, sensory disturbance, and autonomic dysfunction which typically evolve over hours or days)
    • Brain MRI with Cervical and/or Thoracic MRI for evaluation of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (recurrent or bilateral optic neuritis; recurrent transverse myelitis) (Wingerchuk, 2015)
    • Known MS, entire CNS axis (Brain, and/or Cervical and/or Thoracic spine) is approvable prior to the initiation or change of disease modification treatments and assess disease burden (to establish a new baseline)
    • Follow-up scans, including brain and spine imaging if patients have known spine disease: 
        • 6 – 12 months after starting/changing treatment
        • Every 1 – 2 years while on disease-modifying therapy to assess for subclinical disease activity, less frequently when stable for 2 – 3 years

For evaluation of trauma or acute injury
(ACR, 2018)

  • Presents with any of the following neurological deficits noted above
  • With progression or worsening of symptoms during the course of conservative treatment*
  • History of underlying spinal abnormalities (i.e., ankylosing spondylitis, diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis), both MRI and CT are approvable (ACR, 2021; Koivikko, 2008; Taljanovic, 2009)
  • When the patient is clinically unevaluable or there are preliminary imaging findings (x-ray or CT) needing further evaluation
  • When office notes specify the patient meets NEXUS (National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study) or CCR (Canadian Cervical Rules) criteria for imaging:
    • CT for initial imaging
    • MRI when suspect spinal cord or nerve root injury or when patient is obtunded, and CT is negative
    • CT or MRI for treatment planning of unstable spine

("MRI and CT provide complementary information. When indicated it is appropriate to perform both examinations") (ACR, 2018)

For evaluation of known or new compression fractures with worsening neck pain
(ACR, 2018)

  • With history of malignancy
    • To aid in differentiation of benign osteoporotic fractures from metastatic disease
      • A follow-up MRI in 6 – 8 weeks after initial MRI when initial imaging cannot decipher (indeterminate) benign osteoporotic fracture from metastatic disease (Kumar, 2016)
  • With an associated new focal neurologic deficit as above (Alexandru, 2012)
  • Prior to a planned surgery/intervention or if the results of the MRI will change management 

For evaluation of tumor, cancer, or metastasis with any of the following (MRI is usually the preferred study, but CT may be needed to further characterize solitary indeterminate lesions seen on MRI)
(ACR, 2018; Kim, 2012; Roberts, 2010)

Primary tumor

  • Initial staging or re-staging of a known primary spinal tumor
  • Known spinal tumor with new signs or symptoms (e.g., new or increasing nontraumatic pain, physical, laboratory, and/or imaging findings)
  • With an associated new focal neurologic deficit as above (Alexandru, 2012)

Metastatic tumor

  • With evidence of metastasis on bone scan needing further clarification OR inconclusive findings on a prior imaging exam
  • Known malignancy with new signs or symptoms (e.g., new or increasing nontraumatic pain, physical, laboratory, and/or imaging findings) in a tumor that tends to metastasize to the spine
  • With an associated new focal neurologic deficit (Alexandru, 2012)
  • Initial imaging of new or increasing non-traumatic neck pain or radiculopathy or neck pain that occurs at night and wakes the patient from sleep with known active cancer and a tumor that tends to metastasize to the spine (ACR, 2018; Ziu, 2019)

For evaluation of inconclusive finding on prior imaging that requires further clarification

  • One follow-up exam to ensure no suspicious change has occurred in prior imaging finding. No further surveillance unless specified as highly suspicious or change was found on last follow-up exam (ACR, 2018)

Indication for combination studies for the initial pre-therapy staging of cancer, OR active monitoring for recurrence as clinically indicated, OR evaluation of suspected metastases

  • < 5 concurrent studies to include CT or MRI of any of the following areas as appropriate depending on the cancer: Neck, Abdomen, Pelvis, Chest, Brain, Cervical Spine, Thoracic Spine or Lumbar Spine

For evaluation of known or suspected infection/abscess
(ACR, 2018)

  • Infection
    • As evidenced by signs and/or symptoms, laboratory (i.e., abnormal white blood cell count, ESR and/or CRP) or prior imaging findings (Bond, 2016)
    • Follow-up imaging of infection
      • With worsening symptoms/laboratory values (i.e., white blood cell count, ESR/CRP) or radiographic findings (Berbari, 2015)

For evaluation of known or suspected inflammatory disease or atlantoaxial instability

  • In rheumatoid arthritis with neurologic signs/symptoms, or evidence of subluxation on radiographs (lateral radiograph in flexion and neutral should be the initial study) (Colebatch, 2013; Tehranzadeh, 2017)
    • Patients with negative radiographs but symptoms suggestive of cervical instability or in patients with neurologic deficits MRI is indicated (Gillick, 2015)
  • High-risk disorders affecting the atlantoaxial articulation, such as Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome with neurological signs/symptoms, abnormal neurological exam, or evidence of abnormal or inconclusive radiographs of the cervical spine (Henderson, 2017)
  • Spondyloarthropathies, known or suspected
    • Ankylosing Spondylitis/Spondyloarthropathies with non-diagnostic or indeterminate x-ray and appropriate rheumatology workup

For evaluation of spine abnormalities related to immune system suppression, e.g., HIV, chemotherapy, leukemia, or lymphoma
(ACR, 2015; Nagashima, 2010)

  • As evidenced by signs/symptoms, laboratory, or prior imaging findings

Other Indications for a Cervical Spine MRI
(Note- See combination requests, below, for initial advanced imaging assessment and pre-operatively)

  • Tethered cord or spinal dysraphism (known or suspected), based on preliminary imaging, neurological exam, and/or high-risk cutaneous stigmata (AANS, 2019; Duz, 2008; Milhorat, 2009)
  • Known Arnold-Chiari syndrome (For initial imaging see combination below)
    • Known Chiari I malformation without syrinx or hydrocephalus, follow-up imaging after initial diagnosis with new or changing signs/symptoms or exam findings consistent with spinal cord pathology (Hitson, 2015)
    • Known Chiari II (Arnold-Chiari syndrome), III, or IV malformation
    • Achondroplasia (one Cervical Spine MRI to assess the craniocervical junction, as early as possible, even in asymptomatic cases)(Legare, 2020; White, 2016)
  • Syrinx or syringomyelia (known or suspected)
    • With neurologic findings and/or predisposing conditions (e.g., Chiari malformation, prior trauma, neoplasm, arachnoiditis, severe spondylosis (Timpone, 2015))
    • To further characterize a suspicious abnormality seen on prior imaging
    • Known syrinx with new/worsening symptoms
  • Toe walking in a child when associated with upper motor neuron signs, including hyperreflexia, spasticity; or orthopedic deformity with concern for spinal cord pathology (e.g., pes cavus, clawed toes, leg or foot length deformity [excluding tight heel cords])

COMBINATION OF STUDIES WITH CERVICAL SPINE MR

Indications for combination studies: (ACR, 2017, 2019) - For approved indications as noted below and being performed in a child under 8 years of age who will need anesthesia for the procedure

Brain MRI/Cervical MRI

  • For evaluation of known Arnold-Chiari Malformation

Any combination of Cervical and/or Thoracic and/or Lumbar MRIs

  • Any combination of these studies for:
    • Scoliosis survey in infant/child with congenital scoliosis or juvenile idiopathic scoliosis under the age of 10 (ACR, 2018; SRS, 2019; Strahle, 2015)
    • In the presence of progressive spinal deformity or for preoperative planning (Trenga, 2016)
    • Neck pain and vertebral anomalies (hemivertebrae, hypoplasia, agenesis, butterfly, segmentation defect, bars, or congenital wedging) in a child on preliminary imaging
    • Scoliosis with any of the following (Ozturk, 2010):
      • Progressive spinal deformity;
      • Neurologic deficit;
      • Early onset;
      • Atypical curve (e.g., short segment, >30’ kyphosis, left thoracic curve, associated organ anomalies);
      • Pre-operative planning; OR
      • When office notes clearly document how imaging will change management
  • Arnold-Chiari II-IV
    • For initial evaluation and follow up as appropriate
  • Tethered cord, or spinal dysraphism (known or suspected) based on preliminary imaging, neurological exam, and/or high-risk cutaneous stigmata (AANS, 2019; Duz, 2008; Milhorat, 2009), when anesthesia required for imaging (Hertzler, 2010)
  • Toe walking in a child when associated with upper motor neuron signs including hyperreflexia, spasticity; or orthopedic deformity with concern for spinal cord pathology (e.g., pes cavus, clawed toes, leg or foot length deformity (excluding tight heel cords))
  • Neck pain in a child with any of the following red flags (conservative care not required when red flags present):
    • Red flags that prompt imaging should include the presence of age 5 or younger, constant pain, pain lasting >4 weeks, abnormal neurologic examination, early morning stiffness and/or gelling; night pain that prevents or disrupts sleep; radicular pain; fever; weight loss; malaise; postural changes (e.g., kyphosis or scoliosis); and limp (or refusal to walk in a younger child <5yo) AND initial radiographs have been performed (Bernstein, 2007; Feldman, 2006)
  • Drop metastasis from brain or spine (imaging also includes brain)
  • Suspected leptomeningeal carcinomatosis (LC) (Shah, 2011)
  • Any combination of these for spinal survey in patient with metastases
  • Tumor evaluation and monitoring in neurocutaneous syndromes - See Background
  • CSF leak highly suspected and supported by patient history and/or physical exam findings (leak (known or suspected spontaneous (idiopathic) intracranial hypotension (SIH), post lumbar puncture headache, post spinal surgery headache, orthostatic headache, rhinorrhea or otorrhea, or cerebrospinal-venous fistula))

BACKGROUND
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) produces high quality multiplanar images of organs and structures within the body without radiation. It is the preferred modality for evaluating the internal structure of the spinal cord, providing assessment of conditions such as degenerative disc pathology, osteomyelitis, and discitis.

OVERVIEW
*Conservative Therapy: (Spine) should include a multimodality approach consisting of a combination of active and inactive components. Inactive components, such as rest, ice, heat, modified activities, medical devices, acupuncture and/or stimulators, medications, injections (epidural, facet, bursal, and/or joint, not including trigger point), and diathermy can be utilized. Active modalities may consist of physical therapy, a physician-supervised home exercise program**, and/or osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMT) or chiropractic care when considered safe and appropriate.

**Home Exercise Program - (HEP)/ Therapy: The following elements are required to meet guidelines for completion of conservative therapy (ACR, 2015; Last, 2009):

  • Information provided on exercise prescription/plan AND
  • Follow-up with member with documentation provided regarding lack of improvement (failed) after completion of HEP (after suitable 6-week period), or inability to complete HEP due to physical reason, i.e., increased pain, inability to physically perform exercises. (Patient inconvenience or noncompliance without explanation does not constitute “inability to complete” HEP).
  • Dates and duration of failed PT, physician-supervised HEP, or chiropractic treatment should be documented in the original office notes or an addendum to the notes.

Cervical myelopathy: Symptom severity varies, and a high index of suspicion is essential for making the proper diagnosis in early cases. Symptoms of pain and radiculopathy may not be present. The natural history of myelopathy is characterized by neurological deterioration. The most frequently encountered symptom is gait abnormality (86%) followed by increased muscular reflexes (79.1%), pathological reflexes (65.1%), paresthesia of upper limb (69.8%), and pain (67.4%) (Vilaca, 2016).

Infection, Abscess, or Inflammatory disease

  • Infection:
    • Most common site is the lumbar spine (58%), followed by the thoracic spine (30%) and the cervical spine (11%) (Graeber, 2019)
    • High risk populations (indwelling hardware, history of endocarditis, IVDA, recent procedures) with appropriate signs/symptoms

Table 1: Gait and spine imaging

Gait

Characteristic

Work up/Imaging

Hemiparetic

Spastic unilateral, circumduction

Brain and/or, Cervical spine imaging based on associated symptoms

Diplegic

Spastic bilateral, circumduction

Brain, Cervical and Thoracic Spine imaging

Myelopathic

Wide based, stiff, unsteady

Cervical and/or Thoracic spine MRI based on associated symptoms

Ataxic

Broad based, clumsy, staggering, lack of coordination, usually also with limb ataxia

Brain imaging

Apraxic

Magnetic, shuffling, difficulty initiating

Brain imaging

Parkinsonian

Stooped, small steps, rigid, turning en bloc, decreased arm swing

Brain Imaging

Choreiform

Irregular, jerky, involuntary movements

Medication review, consider brain imaging as per movement disorder Brain MR guidelines

Sensory ataxic

Cautious, stomping, worsening without visual input (ie + Romberg)

EMG, blood work, consider spinal (cervical or thoracic cord imaging) imaging based on EMG

Neurogenic

Steppage, dragging of toes

EMGà foot drop Lumbar spine MRI
Pelvis MR appropriate evidence of plexopathy

Vestibular

Insecure, veer to one side, worse when eyes closed, vertigo

Consider Brain/IAC MRI as per GL

(References: Chhetri, 2014; Clinch, 2021; Gait, 2021; Haynes, 2018; Marshall, 2012; Pirker, 2017) 

MRI for Evaluation of DiscitisDiscitis is a known complication of cervical discography. Postoperative discitis in the cervical spine does not occur frequently but can result from accidental inoculation of bacteria into the disc space intra-operatively by a contaminated spinal needle being used as a radiological marker. There may be other causes for postoperative discitis, e.g., esophageal perforation, hematogenous spread, inoculation of bacteria during surgery. Patients with an alteration in the nature of their symptoms after cervical discectomy and fusion may have discitis. Symptoms may include complaints of mild paresthesia in extremities and neck pain. MRI may be performed to reveal feature of discitis with associated abscesses and may help to confirm the diagnosis and decide on further management.

MRI for Cervical RadiculopathyMRI is a useful test to evaluate the spine because it can show abnormal areas of the soft tissues around the spine; in addition to the bones, it can also show pictures of the nerves and discs and is used to find tumors, herniated discs, or other soft-tissue disorders. MRI has a role both in the pre-operative screening and post-operative assessment of radicular symptoms due to either disc or osteophyte.

Table 2: MRI and Cutaneous Stigmata (Dias, 2015) 

Risk Stratification for Various Cutaneous Markers

High Risk

Intermediate Risk

Low Risk

  • Hypertrichosis
  • Infantile hemangioma
  • Artretic meningocele
  • DST
  • Subcutaneous lipoma
  • Caudal appendage
  • Segmental hemangiomas in association with LUMBAR‡ syndrome
  • Capillary malformations (also referred to as NFS or salmon patch when pink and poorly defined or PWS when darker red and well-defined)
  • Coccygeal dimple
  • Light hair
  • Isolated café au lait spots
  • Mongolian spots
  • Hypo- and hypermelanotic macules or papules
  • Deviated or forked gluteal cleft
  • Nonmidline lesions

LUMBAR, lower body hemangioma and other cutaneous defects, urogenital abnormalities, ulcerations, myelopathy, bony defects, anorectal malformations, arterial anomalies, and renal anomalies.

MRI and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) MRI is a sensitive method of detecting the white matter lesions of MS. These plaques on MRI generally appear as multiple, well-demarcated, homogeneous, small ovoid lesions which often lack mass effect and are oriented perpendicular to the long axis of the lateral ventricles. Sometimes they present as large, space occupying lesions that may be misinterpreted as tumors, abscesses, or infarcts.

MRI and Neck Pain – Neck pain is common in the general population and usually relates to musculoskeletal causes, but it may also be caused by spinal cord tumors. When neck pain is accompanied by extremity weakness, abnormal gait, or asymmetric reflexes, spinal MRI may be performed to evaluate the cause of the pain. MRI may reveal areas of cystic expansion within the spinal cord. Enhancement with gadolinium contrast may suggest that the lesion is neoplastic.

Ossification Posterior Longitudinal Ligament (OPLL) (Choi, 2011)  – Most common in cervical spine (rare but more severe in thoracic spine)

Back Pain with Cancer History – Bone is the third most common site of metastases after the liver and the lungs, and approximately two-thirds of all osseous metastases occur in the spine. Approximately 60 70% of patients with systemic cancer will have spinal metastasis. Radiographic (x-ray) examination should be performed in cases of back pain when a patient has a cancer history, but without known active cancer or a tumor that tends to metastasize to the spine. This can make a diagnosis in many cases. This may occasionally allow for selection of bone scan in lieu of MRI in some cases. When radiographs do not answer the clinical question, then MRI may be appropriate after a consideration of conservative care.

Neoplasms causing VCF (vertebral compression fractures) include primary bone neoplasms, such as hemangioma or giant cell tumors, and tumor-like conditions causing bony and cellular remodeling, such as aneurysmal bone cysts, or Paget・s disease (osteitis deformans); infiltrative neoplasms, including and not limited to, multiple myeloma and lymphoma, and metastatic neoplasms (ACR, 2018).

Most common spine metastasis involving primary metastasis originate from the following tumors in descending order: breast (21%), lung (19%), prostate (7.5%), renal (5%), gastrointestinal (4.5%), and thyroid (2.5%). While all tumors can seed to the spine, the cancers mentioned above metastasize to the spinal column early in the disease process. Spinal metastasis is more commonly found in the thoracic region, followed by the lumbar region, while the cervical region is the least likely site of metastasis (Ziu, 2019). 

Cervical Spine Trauma Imaging (ACR, 2018): The National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS) and the Canadian Cervical Rules (CCR) represent clinical criteria used to help determine the presence of significant cervical spine injury. Although the criteria are highly sensitive (99.6% for NEXUS), specificity is low (12.9% for Nexus).

A patient not meeting any of the NEXUS criteria of focal neurologic deficit, midline spinal tenderness, altered consciousness, intoxication, or distracting injury is unlikely to have a significant cervical spine injury. Imaging evaluation of the cervical spine in these patients is not necessary. In the CCR criteria, a patient without any high risk factors (Age >65 years, paresthesias in extremities, dangerous mechanism, falls from ≥3 feet/5 stairs, axial load to head, motor vehicle crash with high speed, rollover, or ejection, bicycle collision, motorized recreational vehicle accident) is next evaluated for low risk factors (Simple rear-end motor vehicle crash, patient in sitting position in emergency center, patient ambulatory at any time after trauma, delayed onset of neck pain, absence of midline cervical spine tenderness). If the patient meets a low-risk criteria, they are asked to move their head 45 degrees from midline in both directions. If the patient can accomplish this, the spine is cleared and imaging is not necessary

MRI and Neurocutaneous Syndromes

  • In NF-1, clinical evaluation appears to be more useful to detect complications than is screening imaging in asymptomatic patients. Imaging is indicated in evaluation of suspected tumors based on clinical evaluation and for follow-up of known intracranial tumors (Borofsky, 2013).
  • Conversely in NF-2, routine MR imaging screening is always indicated, given the high prevalence of CNS tumors, especially vestibular schwannomas. In patients with NF-2, routine screening brain/IAC imaging is indicated annually starting from age 10, if asymptomatic, or earlier with clinical signs/symptoms. Most individuals with NF2 eventually develop a spinal tumor, mostly commonly schwannomas, but meningioma and ependymomas are also seen. Spinal imaging at baseline and every 2 to 3 years is also advised with more frequent imaging, if warranted, based on sites of tumor involvement (Evans, 2017).
  • In patients with Tuberous Sclerosis, Brain MRI should be obtained every 1 – 3 years up until age 25 for surveillance for CNS abnormalities (Krueger, 2013).
  • In Von Hippel Lindau Syndrome, imaging of the brain and spinal cord for hemangioblastomas is recommended every 2 years (Varshney, 2017).
  • In Sturge Weber Syndrome, Brain MRI can rule out intracranial involvement after only age 1 and is recommended in patients <1 year old only if symptomatic (Comi, 2011).

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Coding Section

Code Number Description
  72141 Magnetic resonance (eg, proton) imaging, spinal canal and contents, cervical; without contrast material
  72142 Magnetic resonance (eg, proton) imaging, spinal canal and contents, cervical; with contrast material(s)
  72156 Magnetic resonance (eg, proton) imaging, spinal canal and contents, without contrast material, followed by contrast material(s) and further sequences; cervical

Procedure and diagnosis codes on Medical Policy documents are included only as a general reference tool for each policy. They may not be all-inclusive. 

This medical policy was developed through consideration of peer-reviewed medical literature generally recognized by the relevant medical community, U.S. FDA approval status, nationally accepted standards of medical practice and accepted standards of medical practice in this community, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association technology assessment program (TEC) and other non-affiliated technology evaluation centers, reference to federal regulations, other plan medical policies, and accredited national guidelines.

"Current Procedural Terminology © American Medical Association.  All Rights Reserved" 

History From 2019 Forward     

11/04/2021  Annual reivew, modifying section on neurological deficits. Adding detail re: back pain in a child, gait table, tumor imaging, toe walking and achondroplasia. Also updating description and references. 
11/01/2020  Annual review, reformatting policy for clarity, updating references. 
11/26/2019 New Policy
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