PREVIOUS QUESTION:

 

NEXT QUESTION:

 

What is a spinal X-ray?

ANSWER

If your doctor wants to find out what's causing your back or neck pain, he may ask you to get a spinal X-ray. It uses radiation to make detailed pictures of the bones of your spine.

A technician uses a machine that sends X-ray beams through your body. It records a black-and-white image on a special film or computer. Bones, and other parts of your body that are thick or dense, show up white in the picture. Softer tissue, like fat or muscle, appear in shades of gray.

Your doctor can take separate X-rays that focus on the different parts of the spine, which is made up of 33 small bones called vertebrae.

From: What Is a Spinal X-Ray? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "Spine X-Ray."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "X-rays of the Spine, Neck, or Back."

North American Spine Society: "Anatomy of the Spine," "Radiographic Assessment for Back Pain."

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "X-rays, CT Scans and MRIs."

American College of Radiology Imaging Network: "About X-rays."

Radiological Society of North America: "Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) -- Spine," "X-ray (Radiography) -- Bone."

Mayo Clinic: "X-Rays."

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler on December 17, 2017

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: "Spine X-Ray."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "X-rays of the Spine, Neck, or Back."

North American Spine Society: "Anatomy of the Spine," "Radiographic Assessment for Back Pain."

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "X-rays, CT Scans and MRIs."

American College of Radiology Imaging Network: "About X-rays."

Radiological Society of North America: "Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) -- Spine," "X-ray (Radiography) -- Bone."

Mayo Clinic: "X-Rays."

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler on December 17, 2017

NEXT QUESTION:

How safe are spinal X-rays?

WAS THIS ANSWER HELPFUL

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

    Other Answers On: