Technical Terms Make the Difference

When a legal nurse consultant reviews a file, one of the objectives is to identify and separate chronic from acute. This is critical in order to help the claims representative have a clear and precise understanding of what is and is not related to the injury in

Some cases of degenerative disc disease are the result injury or other factors.  In most cases, however, it’s the consequence of everyday stressors that damage the bones and discs. Most adults will have some level of disc disease as they age.  In other words, it’s a normal result of aging.

Some cases of degenerative disc disease are the result injury or other factors. In most cases, however, it’s the consequence of everyday stressors that damage the bones and discs. Most adults will have some level of disc disease as they age. In other words, it’s a normal result of aging.

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So, when reviewing medical records dealing with a back-injury claim, it’s important look closely for words the radiologist uses to describe the spine.  For example:

  • Desiccation
  • Joint space narrowing
  • Bone spurs/osteophytes
  • Scoliosis
  • Vertebral endplate bone marrow alterations
  • Osteochondrosis
  • Modic changes
  • Sclerotic
  • Sclerosis
  • Disc degeneration
  • Spondylosis
  • Schmorl’s node
  • Facet joint hypertrophy
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Synovial cysts
  • Congenital stenosis
  • Acquired stenosis
  • Ligamentum flavum thickening
  • Fissures
  • Multi-level disc bulging, and
  • Annular tears

When any of these appear in the radiology records, they could  indicate long-standing spine pathology.  Remember:  MRI imaging has made it possible for the radiologist to take a closer look at the structures within the spine; therefore, the records reveal a lot more about the condition of the spine, provided the reviewer knows the technical jargon.

What's the word

The radiologist will rarely ever use the word chronic.  Therefore, the reviewer has to be familiar with those words which are indicate a chronic condition.  Having a solid understanding of the terms used to separate chronic verses acute is invaluable when determining what radiological abnormalities are directly related to an alleged injury.

Debra West is a Registered Nurse and Legal Nurse Consultant with MKC Medical Management, Inc. Contact Debra at debra@mkcmedicalmanagement.com or at 865-551-6800.