Appropriate Use of Lumbar Imaging for Evaluation of Low Back Pain

Roger Chou, Richard A. Deyo, Jeffrey G. Jarvik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Use of lumbar spine imaging, particularly advanced imaging, continues to grow rapidly in the United States. Many lumbar spine imaging tests are obtained in patients who have no clinical symptoms or risk factors suggesting a serious underlying condition, yet evidence shows that this routine imaging is not associated with benefits, exposes patients to unnecessary harms, and increases costs. This article reviews current trends and practice patterns in lumbar spine imaging, direct and downstream costs, benefits and harms, current recommendations, and potential strategies for reducing imaging overuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-585
Number of pages17
JournalRadiologic Clinics of North America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • CT
  • Low back pain
  • MRI
  • Radiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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