How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Lori Your Own Question
Dr. Lori
Dr. Lori, Board Certified Family Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 1209
Experience:  13 yrs+ in full scope Family Practice.Extensive experience w/ chronic diseases.
Type Your Medical Question Here...
Dr. Lori is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

What is a high signal lesion and what is the difference between

Customer Question

What is a high signal lesion and what is the difference between a high signal kesion and a low signal lesion MRI scan showed a high signal lesion in the spinal canel measuring 2cms at C1 level what could it be
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  Dr. Lori replied 7 years ago.



I assume you are referring to MRI exam interpretation, although the terminology can be used with the reading of other types of tests. The signal refers to the appearance of a scan's tissue. It usually is referring to the intensity of the finding on scan, high- signal lesions typically are brighter on the films, and low-signal are darker. Low-signal examples are air and bone, and High-signal examples are fat and bone marrow.


An abnormality can be either intensity, and depend on the type of tissue. Also, different findings are found with and without contrast, and how the magnet is weighted in the pictures taken. Basically, in order to interpret this, the type of scan, location of the lesion, and suspected abnormality are all taken into account when this terminology is used.


Feel free to ask me any questions you need-

I know it is difficult to understand.



Dr. Lori and 3 other Medical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
The scan I had was an MRI scan and a high signal lesion was found in the spinal canal at C1 leval measuring 2cms Iwant to know whether high signal is an indication of something more sinister or does any of what Ive told you lead you to be able to explain to me quite what it all means
Expert:  Dr. Lori replied 7 years ago.



Now I understand what you are looking for.

The high- signal issue can mean different things- but it also depends on which images of the MRI this was read. There are images called T1-weighted,and T-2 weighted, and often the signal is opposite or different between the two. Most reports indicate T2 findings more commonly.


I don't want to assume, but I can give you some basics...


A 2 cm lesion in the spinal canal is either a separated lesion, or arising out of nerve cells or bone cells. The possibility for such a lesion can be one of the following:

--Abscess, Blood filled cavity, Inflammatory lesions, and then of course, a tumor.


Because this is in the canal and not the vertebra or disk, it is not likely a finding due to Spinal arthritis.


In many cases, blood and infection can appear this way, but if it is well-circumscribed and easy to see as a separate lesion from the cord, it is possible to be a tumor also. 5% of cancers arise from the spine, less so the canal, and many are metastatic. And- keep in mind most tumors are benign. So- to help in the sinister area is difficult, because T1 images differ in the reading from T2, and a cancer can be low signal in one, but high signal on the other.


Canal tumors typically arise from Nerve cells or bone cells-- if the mass is distinct as above-- this can also be finding for infection or a hemangioma - a benign blood filled mass. Others are neurofibroma, schwannoma (both nerve cell tumors), and meningioma for benign tumors. Cancer can show as a metastasis from another tumor, or a lone lesion such as an astrocytoma (a brain cancer), or a hemangioblastoma(Children more likely).


Without more information, though, I can't tell you what you want to know specifically.

I wish I could.


If you have other questions, or know if this reading was based on T1 or T2 weighted images, please let me know.


Hopefully, if you are otherwise well, the odds will work in your favor.


Ask me anything you need-


All my best wishes--

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Yes the MR! was T2 I am eperiencing problems with vertigo nausea and disorientation so am guessing the lesion is affecting thecerebullum does that help you with anymore information you can give me. As you can imagine any help would be greatly appreciated
Expert:  Dr. Lori replied 7 years ago.



This gets back to the original thoughts I had in that lesions in the spinal canal can "arise" out of other tissue or be a separate problem.


The hemangioma, a most common finding, will present this way as blood is high-signal.


However, 3 of the tumors can also present this way: astrocytoma, ependymoma, and hemangioblastoma. These are malignant.


Benign tumors can be a meningioma, schwannoma, or neurofibromas.


Infection (circular would be an abscess) can be either high or low.


Your symptoms could be from the tumor pushing and the reading would then say "mass-effect."


Yes- these could be symptoms from the cerebellum, it is close enough.


A tumor in the canal can raise your intracranial pressure and explain your symptoms as well. .


I wonder if you suffer from increased pressure- and the way to determine that is with a spinal tap. If they do a spinal tap for diagnostic reasons, they can send the fluid for cells, and perhaps learn what the lesion is that way.


Beyond this, my friend, I don't have more to add about the MRI-



I will ask a neurosurgeon about this-- see what he has to say and drop you a note tomorrow(Monday). Would that be helpful still?


I will do that. No fun being in suspense with this on your mind.


Take care-

Edited by Dr. Lori on 4/25/2010 at 7:31 AM EST
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

You ve been fantastic thank you so much. The other findings seemed to be ok. I would very much value the opinion of a neurosurgeon as it may help me to deal with all as our National Health Service in UK is extremely slow in arranging follow up appointments etc. Once again thank you SO much and i look forward to hearing from you soon

Love and Light

Expert:  Dr. Lori replied 7 years ago.

OK. Will be in touch tomorrow.



I am going above and beyond for you on this one because I can only imagine your anxiety and worry, and want to make sure you get as much good info as possible.....


It would be great if you would consider another accept on the new info I find, or a bonus....Wink Just hinting.......


No need respond to this one- wait til I send info tomorrow.


My Best---