Plain film evaluation is the most ubiquitous radiologic examination ordered for musculoskeletal and pain complaints. This imaging modality provides a two-dimensional view with excellent detail for bone but only limited characterization of soft tissue structures. Plain films can assess the spine and extremities for degenerative, inflammatory, ischemic and traumatic causes of acute and chronic pain. Many times, a positive finding on plain film will warrant more advanced imaging.
Multiple degenerative and inflammatory pathologies affect the spine, as well. Clinical presentation depends upon the spinal level and area of spine involved. Knowledge of spinal plain film anatomy and imaging findings, as well as its limitations, facilitates timely diagnosis and early intervention.
KeywordsXR Plain film DISH Ankylosing spondylitis Avascular necrosis
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