Medical imaging plays an important role in the evaluation of low back pain (LBP). The choice of certain radiological method over other depends on many factors like patient’s presentation, presence of contraindication, availability, relative cost of the test, and the expected impact of the results on management. Radiological evaluation helps the physician reach the most likely cause of LBP, confirm the provisional diagnosis, provide alternative one, or narrow the differential diagnosis. Plain X-ray radiograph is useful in initial general assessment. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the imaging modality of choice in the evaluation of LBP because of elegant demonstration of anatomical details and many pathologies. Computerized tomography (CT) can provide high-resolution images of the bony structures and is particularly invaluable in trauma. Other imaging modalities are rarely used usually as problem-solving or in selected conditions. For example, sonography may have a role in the evaluation of soft tissue lesions and the sacroiliac joints. Angiography is useful for vascular evaluation. Isotope imaging may be used in the elucidation of of hidden cause of pain (tumors or fracture). Conventional myelography and discography are virtually obsolete in current clinical practice because of the presence of much safer and accurate new modalities. Finally, interventional radiology has an increasing role in treating certain conditions.
Part of the book: Novel Imaging and Spectroscopy