Plain X-rays of the cervical spine. (A) Air within the trachea appears as a dark structure (between the arrows) superimposed on the cervical spine in an AP projection. (B) Intestinal contents and air bubbles are superimposed on the lumbar spine in an AP view.

The cartilaginous intervertebral discs are not visible on a plain film, but their height can be estimated; they occupy the intervertebral spaces.

A plain film of the spinal column, taken in a lateral view, demonstrates the normal curvatures of the spine: the cervical and the lumbar lordosis and the thoracic kyphosis. A plain X-ray image of the normal spine taken in the anteroposterior (AP) direction delineates a straight column clearly showing the midline-positioned spinous processes (Figures 2-3A and 2-3B). Their alignment should be evaluated for rotational spinal injuries such as unilateral facet dislocation of the cervical spine.

A standard AP view is also the best view to study the cervical uncovertebral joints and their relationship to the neural foraminae (Figure 2-4). The AP view of the dorsal and lumbar spine shows the pedicles at each side of the vertebral bodies (Figures 2-5A and 2-5B). The pedicle size and shape as well as the interpedicular distance might point to a possibility of intraspinal space-occupying lesion (SOL). Their erosion might indicate a metastatic disease.

The lateral view demonstrates the different spinal curves: the cervical and lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis. It better delineates

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