[Imaging in low back pain: limits and reflexions]

Rev Med Suisse. 2013 Jun 26;9(392):1351-2, 1354-6, 1358-9.
[Article in French]


Lumbar imaging is frequently requested in patients with low back pain for various reasons. However, the prevalence of severe lesions, including neoplastic, is only about 1%. Imaging in the absence of clinical suspicion performs poorly. Similarly, the imagery is no more likely to identify the anatomical structures that are the source of pain for patients with low back pain. Finally, the literature shows that the impact on treatment decisions and the effect on quality of life of patients cannot justify an indiscriminate use of these investigative techniques. Without questioning the value of imaging, the practitioner must keep in mind these limitations in order to optimize the use of this resource.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / diagnosis*
  • Low Back Pain / epidemiology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Pain Measurement
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods