Exams and Tests

What to Expect from Your Spine Imaging Appointment

You might be nervous about your spine imaging appointment, but our expert will tell you what to expect from your X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.

Anterior Cervical Spine Fixation: Material Technologies

The most commonly available polymer is polyetheretherketone (PEEK). The PEEK graft replacements are stronger than bone but they are softer and less likely to cause the adjacent bone to collapse.

Anterior Cervical Fixation: Plating

Anterior cervical plating enhances arthodesis (fusion) after discectomy.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a powerful diagnostic tool that produces highly detailed images of the spine and other parts of your body.

Exams and Tests Center

In the SpineUniverse Exams and Tests Center, learn the difference between x-ray and MRI—and how they differ from a CT scan.

Myelography (Myelogram)

Myelography is a spinal imaging test that produces an image called a myelogram that is useful to evaluate and diagnose spinal myelopathy or spinal cord compression.

Electromyography (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Tests

Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) are electrodiagnostic tests that measure the electrical activity of muscles and nerves. EMG/NCV tests help evaluate back pain, neck pain, unexplained spine symptoms, numbness, tingling sensations, muscle cramping, or weakness in the arms or legs.

Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar Discography Information

Discography confirms or denies the disc(s) as a pain source. Learn how the procedure is performed and its importance in planning spine surgery.

Do I Really Need an X-ray or MRI for Lower Back Pain?

What role does x-ray or MRI play in diagnosing the cause of lower back pain? Lower back pain symptoms and co-existing medical conditions that may suggest the need for lumbar spine image tests.

Scoliosis and EOS Imaging

The EOS® Imaging System uses low dose radiation to image the spine, pelvis and lower limbs, such as in cases of scoliosis and sagittal imbalance.

What Patients Want to Know Before Having an Imaging Exam

X-rays and imaging tests for back pain were included in a study of what patients want to know about their procedure, radiation exposure, and how they prefer to receive information.

FRAX® Tool Helps Determine Who’s at Risk for Bone Fractures

FRAX® is a fracture risk assessment tool that calculates a person’s absolute fracture risk or estimates of the chance of breaking a bone (eg, spine) within 10 years.

Bone Mineral Density (BMD) Measurement

Learn more about a simple test to see if you are at risk of a spinal fracture.

Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbosacral Low Dose Intrathecal Contrast Enhanced CAT Scan

Similar to a myelogram, contrast dye is injected into the low back to enhance images of the spinal canal and nerve roots.

Cervical (Neck) Implants used in Spine Surgery

Cervical implants are devices surgeons use to decompress (remove pressure from nerves) and to stabilize the neck. These procedures are performed to reduce neck pain.

Blood Tests and Other Laboratory Tests

Laboratory tests often include blood work from which many aspects of the patient's physical health can be determined.

The Present Role of Titanium Cage Fusions In Spine Care

Learn all about the role of titanium cage fusions in patients with spinal conditions that have possibly had a disc removed.

Lumbar (Low Back) Implants Stabilize the Spine

New lumbar (low back) spinal implants, such as artificial discs, are designed to help preserve motion.

Bone Scan

Bone scans can detect changes in your bones before any structural changes can be seen.


A SPECT scan is an imaging technique that measures the emission of photons of a given energy from radioactive tracers introduced into the body.

X-Rays (Radiographs)

X-ray technology is one of the fundamental types of diagnostic imaging used by different spine specialists.

Neurology Basics: Neurological Exams

Evaluating a patient’s neurological function is important to diagnosing and treating spinal problems.

Diagnosing Back or Neck Pain: The Physical Examination

Diagnosing your back or neck pain involves a physical examination, review of your symptoms, medical history, neurological assessment, and movement tests.

Ultrasonography is Ultrasound Imaging Used to Help Diagnose Spinal Disorders

Ultrasonography, also called sonography or medical ultrasound, is a diagnostic test performed to help diagnosis the cause of neck or back pain and spine disorders.

Bone Densitometry Exam DEXA

A bone densitometry exam, also known as a bone density test, bone mineral density test, or dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA or DXA) diagnose osteoporosis or osteopenia, and assess your risk for fracture.

CT Scan (Computed Tomography) and CAT Scan (Computed Axial Tomography)

CT scans, known as CAT scans or computed tomography, are imaging tests performed to evaluate the cause of spinal disorders and back pain. CT imaging involves low-intensity x-rays to create detailed pictures of the cervical (neck), thoracic (mid back) or lumbar (low back) spine.

3 Ways to Protect Yourself from Radiation from Spinal Imaging

Discussing risks and benefits with your doctor shouldn’t only be about treatment—the conversation is also important during the diagnostic process.

Bone Grafts: New Developments

The use of BMP-2 in spinal fusions will eliminate the need for taking the patient's own bone.

Electrodiagnostic Tools

Electrodiagnostic studies should be considered an extension of the history and physical examination and not a substitute for a detailed neurologic and musculoskeletal examination.

MRI vs. Myelogram

There are several advantages to having a myelogram to help diagnose your back pain, in addition to an MRI scan. Article describes both the benefits and drawbacks of myelograms.

Diagnostic Tools: X-Ray, Bone Scan, MRI, CT Scan

Spine specialists use x-rays, bone scans, MR imaging, and CT scans to confirm a diagnosis.

Nuclear Imaging: PET and SPECT Scans

As part of the family of nuclear imaging techniques, PET and SPECT scans are performed to detect abnormal metabolic activity, which could lead to structural changes (in the vertebrae, for example).

Diagnostic Tests: X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI

X-ray, CT Scan and MRI are types of tests used to help diagnose certain spinal disorders. Learn about these and other diagnostic tests.

Patient Opinions About Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) help patients partner with their doctors. Read the results of a study that polled patients’ opinions about this resource.

Posterior Cervical Implants used in Spine Survery

Cervical implants, such as plates, rods and screws, are different types of spinal instrumentation spine surgeons may use during surgery to stabilize the neck and reduce pain.

Novel Radiation-Free Assessment of Scoliosis and the Cobb Angle

The Ortelius800® is a non-invasive radiation-free 3-D imaging system for the diagnosis and monitoring of scoliosis and other spinal deformities.

Lumbar (Low Back) Dynamic Stabilization - A Patient's Guide

Dynamic stabilization uses flexible materials to stabilize the spine if affected by degenerative changes.

Neurological Exams: Sensory Nerves and Deep Tendon Reflexes

Numbness, tingling, burning, and pain are abnormal feelings that may be felt in the back and/or extremities.

Neurological Exams for Neck and Back Pain: Nerve Deficits

A spine specialist may order specific neurological studies. These tests measure nerve performance.


Fluoroscopy is a special type of x-ray used to project live images onto a monitor. Find out how this diagnostic tool can be used.

The Cage

The cage is used primarily in the lumbar spine as a disc replacement spacer and is used in pairs - inserted one on the right side of the disc space and the other on the left to give good lateral support.

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) test is the gold standard in imaging because of its ability to reveal the pathology of discs, nerves, and other soft spinal tissues in splendid detail.

Discography (Discogram)

Provocative Discography is a form of discography that replicates the patient's 'discogenic' pain.

Diagnostic Tests: Bone Density, Nerve Function, Discography, Lab Tests

A bone scan, bone density scan, nerve function tests and basic lab work can help your doctor confirm the diagnosis.

Implanting Expanding Cages to Reconstruct the Spine: Patient Cases

Two cases studies, complete with pre- and postoperative x-rays, demonstrate how expandable vertebral cages are used in spinal reconstruction.

Vertebral Body Reconstruction Using Expandable Cages

Vertebral body reconstruction following corpectomy or vertebrectomy present the surgeon with a technical challenge. Learn about expandable cages and how spine surgeons use these devices in spinal reconstruction.

EMG's and Nerve Conduction Tests

These tests can establish if a nerve is pinched, and give a numeric value to how severely it is pinched and often where it is pinched.

Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Testing

NCV and EMG tests are performed to determine if symptoms (e.g. sciatica, weakness) are caused by a nerve or muscle disorder.

Physical Exam

The physical exam is one way the doctor will try to assess your pain and condition.

Gene Therapy: On the Cutting-Edge

Gene therapy is a cutting-edge technique that has moved from theoretical fantasy into a potential medical therapy.