Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Value of x ray examinations of the cervical spine.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 29 October 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:1276
  1. C A Heller,
  2. P Stanley,
  3. B Lewis-Jones,
  4. R F Heller


    The value of x ray examination of the cervical spine was studied. In one district general hospital it has been estimated that such examinations occupy one radiographer and one room for four hours a week. Eighty-five per cent of patients aged 60 or more who had been referred for an x ray examination of the neck in one year were reported as having cervical spondylosis, and there were no unexpected findings of infection or malignancy at any age. The reports of patients referred for x ray examination of the cervical spine were compared with those of control patients who had originally attended for barium studies. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of cervical spondylosis between the two groups, although the severity of the disc changes was greater among cases than controls. There were no consistent relations between symptoms and changes seen on x ray films. It is suggested that x ray examinations should be performed only when there is a clinical suspicion of malignancy or infection, after trauma, or when surgery may be indicated. There is little point in taking x ray films of the neck to diagnose cervical spondylosis.