PREP: On the day of your spine x-rays, wear something comfortable that you can change out of easily. If you wear clothing containing any metal, a hospital gown will be provided for you. Because metal can interfere with the accuracy of the radiograph it is important to remove any jewelry, barrettes or hairpins from the area of interest. A radiologic technologist will explain the procedure and answer any questions you have. If you think you are pregnant, please tell the technologist before your exam.
PURPOSE: Radiography of the spine can include the bones in the neck, the upper back, lower back or tail bones, or any combination of these areas. Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine x-rays and x-rays of the sacrum or coccyx are usually ordered if a patient is experiencing back pain or suffered a back injury. These x-rays can show evidence of arthritis, fracture, or other injuries.
WHAT TO EXPECT: During your exam, a lead shield may or may not be used to cover your reproductive organs. Sometimes the area of interest would be hidden if a shield were used. An x-ray of the neck may be performed while you are standing, sitting or lying down. In some cases you may be asked to hold sandbags in order for the lower portion of the neck to be visualized. The technologist will move you in various positions to obtain several different images. Although x-rays of the upper and lower back may be taken with the patient standing, they are generally taken while lying down on an x-ray table. The technologist will move you in various positions to obtain several different images. Sponges may be utilized to keep you in certain positions. You may be asked to hold your breath during a short exposure. Since any movement will blur the x-ray image, it is important to hold still during the exposure. Please be sure to indicate to the technologist if you are unable to comply with any of the instructions.
POST EXAM INFORMATION: Your x-ray films will be given to a radiologist to review. A report on the results of your x-rays will be faxed to your physician. Your physician will discuss the results with you.