The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Back X-Rays (Spine X-Rays)
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What happens when the test is performed?

  • You either stand or lie down while a technician takes the x-rays. He or she positions you against the photographic plate (which looks like a large board) to get the clearest pictures. A front view and a side view are usually taken.

    For cervical spine x-rays, the technician tells you to open your mouth as wide as you can before taking some of the pictures; this is done to avoid having your teeth block the view of the bones at the top of your spine.

    The technician leaves the room or stands behind a screen while controlling the x-ray camera. To avoid a blurred image, he or she tells you to remain as still as possible, including holding your breath, before taking each picture.

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