Jason M. Gallina MD PC

Specialist in artificial disc replacement, non-fusion surgery and minimally invasive surgery

820 2nd Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
541 Cedar Hill Avenue
Wyckoff, NJ 07481
Phone: 212-616-4130 | Fax: 212-983-0483
Description | Indications | Mechanism | Limitations | Risks

X-Rays - Spinal diagnostic test


An x-ray works like a camera, and it takes pictures of bones by sending a radioactive beam through a particular part of the body and onto a special film, which, when developed, shows the image of the bone.


An x-ray is indicated when there is a possible fracture, infection or tumor involving the bone, or to show whether the bones of fractures that have been set are in proper alignment. In the spine, x-rays help to visualize diminished space between vertebrae, the possible presence of bone spurs, and the condition of facet joints, all indicative of possible degeneration of the spine.


Procedure for having an x-ray taken involves remaining very still in a particular position while the x-ray machine is activated. The procedure takes only a few moments, and is completely painless. X-rays of the spine may be taken with the body in the bent or flexed position and the compared to x-rays with the body in the straight or extended position. Such x-rays may reveal vertebral instability.


X-rays readily show bones, but do not clearly demonstrate soft tissue structures such as ligaments, nerves and discs. An x-ray, however, is usually the first diagnostic test to demonstrate the overall condition of the bony structures of the spine.


The radiation that is utilized in x-rays can, in large quantity, contribute to the development of cancer. Patients would have to receive hundreds of x-rays over a long period of time to increase their risk of cancer. Children, adults of child rearing age, and pregnant women, should be protected from exposure to radiation, especially to the sexual organs. A lead apron is usually utilized for this purpose.

Related FAQs and Articles:

What does an X-ray show?

This is the first time I've had low back pain. Will I have to have X-rays on my first visit to the doctor?