Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What does the mri test results are "essentially normal" mean?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat does the mri test results are "essentially normal" mean?


my son had a mri of the brain and spine and the doctor called to say his results were essentially normal. what does this mean in medical terminology


Thanks for your question. I recommend that you speak with your doctor. Quite often, scans will turn up different things than what doctors expected, things that are not concerning but not necessarily normal. For example, it is quite common to find a vascular abnormality that doesn't affect function. In regards to your specific question about a scan of the spine and the brain could be if there were some minor findings of the vertebrae of the back that your doctor doesn't necessarily feel are contributing to any of the current symptoms, but are not exactly normal. In other words, it is abnormal that a scan be perfectly normal (which is one of the reasons that people shouldn't go get unnecessary scans!), but most of the time the incidental findings don't contribute value to answering the question that the scan was ordered to answer. Because all tests are imperfect, there are times that a doctor needs to utilize judgement to say what is relevant and what is not. In that sort of situation he or she will often say that a scan is "essentially normal." If you want more information, please speak with your doctor about what the other findings were. Please speak with your doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.