What is the role of plain radiography in the workup of lumbosacral facet syndrome?

Updated: Nov 19, 2018
  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Plain radiographs are traditionally ordered as the initial step in the workup of lumbar spine pain. The main purpose of plain films is to determine underlying structural pathologic conditions. These studies are not generally recommended in the first month of symptoms in the absence of red flags. An exception to this would be if the low back symptoms are related to a sports injury and a fracture is suggested.

Three views are commonly obtained, including an anteroposterior (AP), lateral, and oblique; however, the utility of oblique views has been questioned.

Plain radiographs may reveal degenerative changes, but these findings have not been found to correlate with Z-joint–mediated pain.

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