Plain films demonstrating the atlanto-axial complex. (A) Lateral projection allows measurements of the distance between the odontoid and the anterior arch of C1 (arrows). Note the large sagittal diameter of the spinal canal at this level. (B) Open mouth view demonstrating the relation between the odontoid and the lateral masses of the first cervical vertebra, the atlas.

The lateral view demonstrates the spinolaminar line as well as the posterior margins of the cervical facets (Figure 2-6B). A good view of the pre-vertebral soft tissue is provided.

The transverse width of the spinal canal can be roughly evaluated by the interpedicular distance on the anteroposterior view. Measuring, on a lateral view, the distance between the posterior surfaces of the vertebral bodies that represent the anterior border and the spinolami-nar line, which represents the posterior border of the spinal canal, provides the sagittal diameter (Figure 2-5B). These measurements provide only a rough estimation, as there is a significant deviation between the object's actual size and its size on the film of about 20%.

The interspinous distance in the lateral view of the cervical spine is important in trauma patients.

Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) and diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) can be easily recognized in the lateral view (see Chapter 4).

The lateral view of both thoracic and lumbar spine demonstrates the pedicles and the intervertebral foraminae, which are perpendicular to the long axis of the spinal column (Figures 2-7A and 2-7B). In the cervical spine the pedicles are obliquely oriented anteroposterior mediolaterally so that the intervertebral foraminae will be exposed

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