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Skeletal spine
Skeletal spine

Vertebra, lumbar (low back)
Vertebra, lumbar (low back)

Vertebra, thoracic (mid back)
Vertebra, thoracic (mid back)

Vertebral column
Vertebral column


Posterior spinal anatomy
Posterior spinal anatomy

Lumbosacral spine x-ray


A lumbosacral spine x-ray is a picture of the small bones (vertebrae) in the lower part of the spine (the lumbar region) and the sacrum, the area that connects the spine to the pelvis.

Alternative Names:

X-ray - lumbosacral spine; X-ray - lower spine

How the test is performed:

The test is done in a hospital radiology department or your health care provider's office by an x-ray technician. You will be asked to lie on the x-ray table in different positions. If the x-ray is being done to diagnose an injury, care will be taken to prevent further injury.

The x-ray machine will be placed over the lower part of your spine. You will be asked to hold your breath as the picture is taken so that the image will not be blurry. Usually three to five pictures are taken.

How to prepare for the test:

Inform the health care provider if you are pregnant. Remove all jewelry.

How the test will feel:

There is generally no discomfort associated with an x-ray, although the table may be cold.

Why the test is performed:

Lumbosacral spine x-ray helps evaluate back injuries and persistent numbness , low back pain, or weakness .

Normal Values:

What abnormal results mean:

What the risks are:

There is low radiation exposure. X-rays are monitored and regulated to provide the minimum amount of radiation exposure needed to produce the image. Most experts feel that the risk is low compared with the benefits.

Pregnant women and children are more sensitive to the risks of x-rays.

Special considerations:

There are a number of back problems that an x-ray will not detect because they involve the muscles, nerves, and other soft tissues. A lumbosacral spine CT or lumbosacral spine MRI are better options for soft tissue disorders.

References: Mettler FA. Skeletal system. In: Mettler FA, ed. Essentials of Radiology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2005:chap 8.

Review Date: 2/22/2009
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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