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Diagnostic Imaging Procedures for the Lumbar Spine

Richard A. Deyo, MD; Stanley J. Bigos, MD; and Kenneth R. Maravilla, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant Support: Supported in part by the Northwest Health Services Research and Development Field Program of the Seattle Veterans Affairs Medical Center and by grant HS-06344 from the National Center for Health Services Research and Technology Assessment.

Requests for Reprints: Richard A. Deyo, MD, Seattle Veterans Affairs Medical Center (152), 1660 S. Columbian Way, Seattle, WA 98108.


Veterans Affairs Medical Center and
University of Washington School of Medicine
Seattle, Washington


Ann Intern Med. 1989;111(11):865-867. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-111-11-865
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This excerpt has been provided in the absence of an abstract.

Low back pain is an extraordinarily common complaint, but one with a generally favorable prognosis. Most episodes will improve rapidly with little or no medical intervention, and a specific diagnosis can be made in only a few cases (1). Only a very few patients require plain radiography and even fewer patients require more sophisticated imaging procedures. Although a broad range of imaging procedures are commonly used for the lumbar spine (Table 1), many of these procedures overlap in their capabilities, and their optimal choice or sequence remains uncertain. Furthermore, the clinical usefulness of some of these tests remains controversial.

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