Cervical Spine X-Ray

Last updated: 29 November 2017

What is a cervical spine x-ray?

Cervical spine x-ray (XR cervical spine or CS spine) is performed to investigate neck pain, particularly following trauma or in cases of chronic neck pain with findings of upper limb weakness, numbness or tingling.

How is a cervical spine x-ray performed?

Cervical spine x-ray is performed by a radiographer in an X-Ray room. The standard three views taken are the:

  • AP (anteroposterior view, which looks at the spine from the front)
  • Lateral (which looks at the spine from the side)
  • Peg view (this looks at the upper part of the cervical spine and requires the patient to open the mouth wide)

X-Rays are taken with the patient’s head in full flexion (leaning as far forward as possible). The patient will be asked to bend the head forward as far as possible, and to extend the neck backwards as far as possible.

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When would you need a cervical spine x-ray?

A cervical spine x-ray is useful in identifying cervical vertebrae fractures (bone breaks), vertebral malalignment, dislocation and degenerative spine disease.

Test results, explained

In cases of trauma, the cervical spine x-ray is usually interpreted immediately by an emergency doctor such as an Emergency Physician, an Orthopaedic Surgeon, or a General Surgeon involved in the care of the patient. Sometimes, a Radiologist may also be requested to interpret the images.

C-Spine X-Rays taken in the non-urgent setting are reported by a Radiologist, and the report is usually sent to the doctor who ordered the test. The Radiologist will usually comment on the alignment of the vertebrae and the presence or absence of any ‘wear and tear’ changes, usually related to normal aging and known as degenerative changes or osteoarthritis.

Related specialists

Related procedures

  • Pre-operative Anaesthetic assessment

Related tests

Also known as

  • XR cervical spine
  • Davis series cervical spine
  • C spine X-Ray
  • C spine series
  • AP cervical spine
  • Lateral cervical spine
  • Flexion/extension views
  • 5-series cervical spine
  • 7-series cervical spine



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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.