Guidelines for use of lumbar spine radiography

Gabor D. Kelen, Eric K. Noji, Peter E. Doris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In deciding whether to obtain lumbosacral spine films, the emergency physician must not ask whether a diagnosis can be established, but whether obtaining films will affect management. Low back pain is a considerable problem for society with cost in billions of dollars. Gonadal radiation from lumbosacral radiographs is significant, and thus ordering films should be minimized. Plain radiographs are rarely indicated in otherwise healthy patients 20 to 50 years old with mechanical or root pain on initial presentation. In other patients alternative diagnostic methodologies such as computed tomography may be superior, with less radiation risk. Specific recommendations for emergency radiographic evaluation of the lumbosacral spine are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-251
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of emergency medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1986


  • cost effectiveness, radiography, lumbar spine
  • radiography, lumbosacral spine
  • spine, lumbosacral, radiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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