Spine x-ray is an image of various parts of the spinal column obtained as a result of the passage of X-rays through the corresponding area. It is indicated for suspected spinal curvature, herniated intervertebral discs, dislocation of vertebrae, infectious diseases, tumor lesions, spinal column fractures, degenerative processes and other vertebrogenic pathology. The study may cover the entire vertebral column or certain parts of it (cervical, thoracic, lumbosacral, coccyx). It is performed in 2 projections: straight and lateral or oblique. In some cases, functional tests or contrast enhancement are used (during discography, myelography).


Indications for x-ray of the cervical spine are traumatic injuries, external changes indicating the presence of congenital malformations and diseases of the vertebrae, as well as dizziness and headaches that occur with sudden changes in the position of the head. Spine x-ray in the thoracic region is usually prescribed for injuries and pain syndrome. Images of the transitional (thoracolumbar) departments are most often used to diagnose compression fractures, since it is this part of the spine that is most susceptible to such injuries.

The list of indications for spine x-ray in the lumbar region includes injuries, pain, paresthesia and movement disorders in the extremities. The high need for such studies is due to the prevalence of lumbar osteochondrosis and other degenerative-dystrophic processes of the lower vertebral column. X-ray of the sacrum is rarely performed, as a rule – with severe pelvic injuries. X-ray of the coccyx is prescribed if a fracture of the coccyx is suspected. An overview spine x-ray is performed for scoliosis, kyphosis and kyphoscoliosis. To study soft tissue structures, myelography and discography are used (studies using a contrast agent).


There are no absolute contraindications to spine x-ray. Among the relative contraindications are childhood, pregnancy and a large number of similar studies in the anamnesis. Some experts do not recommend X-rays during lactation. It is impractical to prescribe images of the lumbosacral region within a few days after X-ray contrast studies of the abdominal cavity, since barium residues in the intestine can reduce the informative value of radiographs or make them unsuitable for diagnosis at all. In some cases, the excess weight of the patient is considered as a limitation. Spine x-ray is not performed in a state of motor excitement.

The list of contraindications to X-ray contrast studies includes allergies to contrast agents, severe liver and kidney pathology, hypertension, arterial hypotension, heart disease, increased bleeding and increased blood clotting. In all cases, the decision on spine x-ray, its replacement by another diagnostic procedure (CT of the spine or MRI of the spine), as well as the appointment of medications for preliminary correction of the patient’s condition is taken individually.


When examining the cervical and thoracic sections, special training is not required. During 3-4 days before the x-ray of the lower spine, it is recommended to refrain from using gas–forming products, including carbonated drinks, black bread, milk and legumes. On the eve of spine x-ray, especially in the presence of excess weight, it is advised to take a laxative or cleanse the intestines with an enema. All of these measures are aimed at reducing the amount of intestinal gases that degrade the quality of images.

Methodology of conducting

Before X-ray examination of the spine, the patient is asked to take off clothes and metal objects and remain motionless after laying. The choice of styling during spine x-ray is determined by the characteristics of a particular segment. To study the movable cervical region, not only straight and lateral, but also additional projections are used. To identify pathological changes in the upper cervical vertebrae, images are taken through the mouth.

When examining a sedentary thoracic region, spine x-ray is usually prescribed in two projections. The lumbar region is removed in two or more projections (depending on the type of pathology). In most cases, one or two standard projections are sufficient to study the sacrum and coccyx. The duration of spine x-ray ranges from 10 minutes to half an hour (depending on the number of images). At the end of the study, the radiologist examines the images, draws up a conclusion and passes it to the attending physician.

Interpretation of results

The study provides information about the presence of fractures and dislocations, displacement of fragments, the level of compression and other features of traumatic injuries. In addition, spine x-ray makes it possible to assess the magnitude of the physiological bends of the spine and the position of the vertebrae in relation to each other. When studying radiographs, changes in the structure of bone tissue, bone defects and growths are revealed.

Based on the x-ray of the vertebral column, it is possible to conclude about the height of the intervertebral discs, the presence of pathological changes in the joints of the spine, benign and malignant lesions of bone tissue, as well as secondary foci in the vertebral column in oncological processes of other localization. To clarify the data obtained during x-ray, if necessary, other studies (CT, MRI) can be used.

Sacrum X-Ray

Sacrum x-ray is a radiography examination carried out to assess the state of the bone structures of this anatomical formation. It is prescribed for suspected sacral fracture, developmental abnormalities, certain diseases and pains of unclear etiology. The standard examination is performed in two projections (straight and lateral). A direct picture is taken in a supine position…

Coccyx X-Ray

Coccyx x-ray is a method of radiation diagnostics of the lower spine. It is prescribed for suspected fractures of the coccygeal vertebrae, may be required in the case of proctalgia, coccygodynia and pelvic pain of unclear genesis. The standard study is performed in two projections (straight and lateral). In order to take a direct picture…

Lumbar Spine X-Ray

Lumbar spine x-ray is an radiography method of examining the bone structures of the spinal column. The technique allows us to conclude about the density of bone tissue, the state of the cortical layer, the relative position of bone structures, the symmetry and integrity of individual vertebrae, the shape of the spine, the presence or…

Thoracic Spine X-Ray

Thoracic spine x-ray is an radiography examination shown in case of suspected fractures of the thoracic vertebrae, degenerative-dystrophic processes, malformations and neoplasia of this part of the spinal column. The standard study is performed in two projections (straight and lateral). In some cases, X-rays are additionally prescribed in an oblique projection. X-ray in a direct…

Cervical Spine X-ray

Cervical spine x-ray is a radiography examination of the lower cervical (with the exception of I-II) and upper thoracic vertebrae. It is indicated for suspected fractures of the III-VII cervical vertebrae, developmental anomalies, degenerative-dystrophic and tumor processes. It is performed in two projections (straight and lateral), if necessary, additional (oblique) projections are assigned. Indications Before…


Spondylography is a study of the bones and joints of the spinal column throughout. It provides information about the condition and structure of the vertebrae, assess the distance between the vertebrae, study their processes, intervertebral joints and openings, determine the mobility of individual vertebral segments, the nature and degree of curvature of the spine. The…


Myelography is a contrast X-ray examination of the subarachnoid (subarachnoid) space of the spinal cord. The technique is prescribed for symptoms of compression of the spinal cord or its roots of unclear etiology, suspicion of syringomyelia, arachnoiditis, malignant and benign neoplasia, and some other diseases. The study can be ascending or descending, in the first…

Discography Spine

Discography spine is an X-ray examination of the intervertebral disc using contrast. It is used to clarify the cause of pain of unclear genesis, to assess the condition of the discs in cases of multiple lesions, to conduct differential diagnosis between various disc pathologies, to determine indications for surgical intervention, to draw up an operation…