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.
Before the procedure, it is important to find out what the cervical spine x-ray shows. This method of research will allow to determine the presence of tumor processes, to identify spinal injuries, developmental anomalies and much more. Thus, the indications are:
- suspected traumatic injury to the neck;
- the presence of deformities, curvature, limited mobility of the neck;
- pain syndrome in the neck;
- signs indicating that the cervical spine was affected due to infectious diseases, for example tuberculosis, etc.;
- dizziness, headaches that increase when the head tilts or turns;
- pain in the hands, the cause of which has not been identified (the problem may be in the development of osteochondrosis of the neck).
Cervical spine x-ray is prescribed to obtain clear images that will reveal the cause of the patient’s complaints, and in the future – to prescribe treatment.
After receiving the image, the doctor will be able to assess the condition of the cervical vertebrae and the discs between them. Based on the results of the diagnosis, it will be possible to draw up a conclusion about the presence of:
- traumatic injuries (fractures of the vertebral body or several, fractures of processes, displacement of vertebrae and fragments, compression fracture);
- acute torticollis is a congenital or acquired pathology, X-ray allows you to identify its type and severity;
- developmental pathologies – underdevelopment of the arches and processes, a change in the shape of the vertebrae, the presence of additional vertebrae and cervical ribs will be visible;
- tumors, but only bone neoplasms are visible, and destructive foci may indicate metastases;
- spondylolisthesis – displacement of the vertebra relative to neighboring;
- osteochondrosis – reduction of the gap between the vertebrae, the appearance of bone growths.
Methodology of conducting
The standard examination is performed in two projections (straight and lateral). At the same time, the III-VII and I-III thoracic vertebrae are visible in the direct projection image, and the I–VII cervical vertebrae are visible on the lateral radiograph. The upper thoracic vertebrae are not visible in the lateral image, since they are overlaid by the shadows of the shoulder girdle bones. During cervical spine x-ray in a direct projection, the patient lies on his back. The head is slightly thrown back. A side shot is performed in the patient’s sitting or standing position. So that the shadows of the shoulder girdle bones do not overlap the images of the lower cervical vertebrae (especially important for patients with a short neck), the patient’s shoulders are pulled down. If the X-ray is done in a standing position, the patient is given small loads in his hands. If the study is performed in a sitting position, the examinee is asked to grab the chair seat with his hands and actively pull his shoulders down.
In some cases (for the study of intervertebral joints and intervertebral openings), orthopedics and traumatology prescribe radiographs in additional oblique projections. During the examination, the patient stands or sits at an angle of 30-45 degrees with his face or back (depending on which X-ray needs to be done – anterior oblique or posterior oblique) relative to the direction of the X-rays.
Decoding of the procedure of cervical spine x-ray should be performed by a radiologist. As a rule, after the procedure is over, the patient is asked to wait outside the office, and the doctor is engaged in drawing up a conclusion. With the conclusion that you will receive, you can go to your doctor.
Conducting an cervical spine x-ray with or without functional tests is impossible if we are talking about a pregnant woman. Radiation negatively affects the fetus, even a small dose of it can lead to harmful consequences. Also, the procedure is not carried out for children under 15 years of age.