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e-Anatomy 4

Spine radiography images

Denis Hoa

Published on Wednesday 09 September 2009

SECTION: Anatomy of the spine and the spinal cord

Images and anatomical references

This radio-anatomy module of the spinal column presents 18 conventional radiographs of the spine with captions of 192 anatomical structures.


It is intended particularly for radiologists, electroradiology students, emergency physicians, orthopaedic surgeons and rheumatologists, but may be used as a daily or a teaching aid for any practitioner, physician or student involved in the musculoskeletal pathology of the spine (spinal disc herniation, osteoporosis, vertebral compression, spinal trauma, sciatica...)


Standard radiology of the spine


18 radiographical plates most commonly used in medical practice were selected, covering the whole of the spinal column:

  • Radioanatomy of the cervical spine:


Cervical vertebrae [C I-C VII] -  - Radiography : Zygapophysial joints, Uncus of body; Uncinate process, Transverse process, Superior articular process

Cervical vertebrae [C I-C VII] : Radiography - Anterior view


    • 2 plates of entire spinal column, in front and profile impacts, permit the spinal vertebrae to be numbered and show the physiological curvatures (cervical lordosis, thoracic kyphosis, lumbar lordosis, sacral kyphosis (sacral)).


Anatomy - Vertebral column - [UMLS:C1962945] - Anterior-posterior full-length view of the spine/Lateral full-length view of the spine : Spine, Primary curvature, Thoracic kyphosis, Sacral kyphosis, Secondary curvatures, Cervical lordosis, Lumbar lordosis, Scoliosis, Vertebra

Vertebral column - [UMLS:C1962945] - Anterior-posterior full-length view of the spine/ Lateral full-length view of the spine


    • 2 radiographs of the cervical spine (front and profile view) detail the cervical vertebrae: bony structures (vertebral body, uncus, transverse, spinous and articular processes, pedicle...) and the various joints (atlanto-occipital, facet and costovertebral joints.


Spine - Cervical vertebrae [C I-C VII] - Radiography : Atlas [C I], Axis [C II], Dens

Spine - Cervical vertebrae [C I-C VII] - Radiography: Lateral view


    • Follow two dynamic views of the cervical spine, detailing the curvature of the spine as well as the more visible anatomical structures in profile (spinous process, epiphyseal ring, dens axis, anterior arch of the atlas, posterior tubercle...).
    • An impact of three-quarters allows a visualisation of the intervertebral foramen between each cervical vertebra and the upper and lower vertebral clefts.
    • The open mouth impact allows the study of the atlas (C1) and axis (C2), with the lateral masses of the atlas, the dens of the axis and atlanto-occipital and atlanto-axial joints.


  • The study of the radioanatomy of the thoracic spine is composed of two different standard radiographic plates: the impact from the front (anterior) and profile (posterior). These X-rays to all a visualisation of the vertebral bodies of thoracic vertebrae, the spinous, transverse and articular processes as well as the costovertebral and zygapophysial joints.


[UMLS:C0012249] - Vertebral column - Thoracic vertebrae [TI-TXII] : Anterior-posterior view - Rib, Costovertebral joints, True ribs [I-VII]

[UMLS:C0012249] - Vertebral column - Thoracic vertebrae [TI-TXII] : Anterior-posterior view


  • Radiological anatomy of the lumbar spine:
    • The anteroposterior radiograph (anterior aspect) shows the vertebral bodies of five lumbar vertebrae, their transverse processes, spinous and upper and lower joints.


[UMLS:C0012249] - Lumbar vertebrae [LI-LV] : Transverse process, Anular epiphysis, Pedicle, Superior articular process, Sacrum [sacral vertebrae I - V]

Lumbar vertebrae [LI-LV] - Anatomy : [UMLS:C0012249]


    •  The lateral radiograph (side aspect) of the lumbar spine shows the vertebral bodies and intersomatic spaces, the intervertebral faces of the vertebral bodies and laminae of the vertebral arch. It displays the lumbar intervertebral foramina and pedicles perfectly.
    • The three-quarters radiograph (oblique lumbar spine aspect) is particularly useful for identifying the zygapophysial (facet) joints, the pedicles and the superior and inferior articular processes, which form the classic "little dog" radiographic aspect.


Vertebral column - Anterior oblique view : "Scotty dog" : Pedicle, Zygapophysial joints, Lamina, Superior articular process, Inferior articular process, Intervertebral surface

Vertebral column - Anterior oblique view : "Scotty dog"


    • The lumbo-sacral joint is studied by means of the radiograph of the lumbosacral plexus in front and profile views.


Lumbosacral joint - Anatomy - [UMLS:C1962945] : Sacrum [sacral vertebrae I - V], Sacral canal, Base of sacrum, Coccyx; coccygeal vertebrae [I-IV]

Lumbosacral joint - [UMLS:C1962945] - Lateral view


  • Radiographs of the sacroiliac, sacrum and coccyx joints:
    • Oblique radiological aspect of the sacroiliac joints allows the visualisation of the joint space, auricular surface of the hipbone, the lateral part of the sacral ala.
    • The front and lateral radiographs of the sacrum show the anterior sacral foramina, the base and the apex of the sacrum, its pelvic and dorsal surfaces, the median sacral crest, the coccyx and the sacro-coccygeal joint.


Standard radiographic visualisation of anatomical structures of the spinal column

The "anatomical structures" menu allows three types of captions to be displayed: vertebrae, bones and joints.


The "illustrations" menu allows you to go directly to the radiographs concerning the spine as a whole, the cervical, thoracic and lumbar vertebrae, the sacrum and coccyx.


All the structures are captioned based on the Terminologia Anatomica, which is why the "radiological" terms are not present (intersomatic space, posterior wall of the spine...). The anatomical legends of radiographs of the spinal column are available in Latin, French, English, German, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese.

Anatomical parts

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