Neck pain is a diffuse problem with a high incidence and often leads to the more or less appropriate prescription of imaging studies of the cervical spine. In general, this is represented by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Frequently such studies reveal no other significant findings apart from a loss of cervical lordosis either under the form of a simple straightening of the spine or even an inversion of the normal curvature into a kyphosis. Faced with this entity, the clinician is put in front of a series of questions: to which extent such a finding plays a role in the patient's symptoms? If it does what is the role of conservative or even invasive treatment? What are the implications for surgery either for decompressive procedures or corrective procedures? To shed some light on these questions, the authors present a narrative review of the most relevant literature on the topic. Papers examined span from the initial epidemiologic reports out of the pre-MRI and computerized tomography era up to the most recent discussions on cervical sagittal alignment and its implications both for the surgical and nonsurgical patient. In this process, it becomes increasingly clear that we are still far from making any definite statements.
Keywords: Cervical spine; clinical correlation; sagittal alignment.