What is the role of imaging studies in the evaluation of low back pain (LBP)?

Updated: Aug 22, 2018
  • Author: Jasvinder Chawla, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: Stephen A Berman, MD, PhD, MBA  more...
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As indicated in the last section, unrelenting pain at rest should generate suspicion of cancer or infection. The appropriate imaging study is mandatory in these cases and in cases of progressive neurological deficit. Plain anteroposterior and lateral lumbar spine radiographs are indicated for patients older than 50 years and for those with pain at rest, a history of serious trauma, or other potential conditions (eg, cancer, fracture, metabolic bone disease, infection, inflammatory arthropathy). The yield for discovering a serious condition with radiography outside these parameters is minimal, and the cost savings are substantial.

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