Which imaging modalities are performed during the workup for lumbar spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Beth B Froese, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Answer

Radiologic workup can include the following:

  • Radiographic studies - These allow visualization and grading of spondylolisthesis but may not always reveal the presence of an isolated spondylolysis (without spondylolisthesis)
  • Bone scanning - Bone scanning with single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging is useful and often helps to direct management
  • Computed tomography (CT) scanning - This not only documents the presence and severity of spondylolysis but can help to rule out more serious causes for a positive bone scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - MRI may visualize edema in the marrow around the sight of an acute spondylolytic defect

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