X-ray of lumbar the spine

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Author: Mikael Häggström [notes 1]

Lumbarization of S1 (lateral view).jpg


Choice of modality

  • Suspicion of a vertebral compression fracture alone, such as in an elderly patient with typical symptoms.
  • Low clinical suspicion of a fracture, according to US guidelines,[1] but low dose CT is still arguably superior if the local department has a low dose protocol (with up to only slightly larger radiation dose than X-ray).[2]
  • In children, according to Australian guidelines,[3] but again, low dose CT is arguably superior if there is a local low dose protocol.[2]
  • As a follow-up of fractures, since it is almost always enough to check for change in position.[notes 2]

Other indications

X-ray of the lumbar spine can be used in the follow-up of many disorders in order to detect a change in position of bones or radiographically distinguishable fragments thereof. Otherwise, CT or MRI is generally required.


  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Radlines:Authorship for details.
  2. NU Hospital Group, Sweden


  1. USA:. ACR Appropriateness Criteria. American College of Radiology. Last review date: 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Alshamari, Muhammed; Geijer, Mats; Norrman, Eva; Lidén, Mats; Krauss, Wolfgang; Wilamowski, Franciszek; Geijer, Håkan (2015). "Low dose CT of the lumbar spine compared with radiography: a study on image quality with implications for clinical practice ". Acta Radiologica 57 (5): 602–611. doi:10.1177/0284185115595667. ISSN 0284-1851. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Australia:. Radiology - Acute indications. The Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne. Retrieved on 2018-12-14.