What is Thoracic Spine X-Ray?
A thoracic spine (middle-back) X-ray is a painless radiology exam. This is performed to examine the cause of an unexplained pain and discomfort in the middle-back area in a non-invasive manner.
This scan is also known as Thoracic Spine Films, Thoracic X-Ray, Spine X-Ray, T-Spine Imaging, and Middle-Back X-Ray.
In this scan, multiple images of the bones and soft tissues in the middle-back or thoracic spine are generated. Generally, the images of the thoracic spine are taken in two different positions—one from the front (anterior-posterior or AP view) and the other from the side (lateral view).
Thoracic spine X-ray is mainly useful in emergency diagnosis and treatment because it is a quick and easy scan. It helps doctors in assessing the level of injury to the middle-back after an accident and in detecting infections, tumors, or other abnormalities in the middle-back bones.
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Who Should Get a Thoracic Spine X-Ray?
Your doctor may recommend a thoracic spine X-ray if you have:
- Experienced an acute trauma or injury to your middle-back area
- Severe pain in the middle back with fever
- Persistent pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms
- Mild trauma in people who are less than 50 years old
- Numbness or weakness in the legs
- Stiffness on the back, arms, shoulders, and legs
- Unexplained weight loss
- Birth defects of the spine
- Recent infection in the back
- Problems controlling the bladder
- Osteoporosis (causes bones to become weak and brittle)
- History of the brain or spinal cancer
- Had surgery to the middle spine within the past 10 years
What is the Purpose of a Thoracic Spine X-Ray?
A thoracic spine X-ray will help your doctor:
- Evaluate unusual pain in the middle-back area with uncommon symptoms.
- Detect fractures or broken bones in the middle back.
- Examine the dislocation of the joints in the middle back.
- Check the thinning of the middle-back bones because of osteoporosis (a condition in which bones become brittle and weak).
- Detect signs of infections, cysts, bone tumors, or cancer of the thoracic spine.
- View the effects of disease, injuries, or infection on the lumbar spine.
- Look for the abnormal curving of the spine or growths on the lumbar spine bones (bone spurs).
- Check changes in the middle-back joints due to age-related wear and tear (thoracic spondylosis).
- Detect and investigate birth defects of the thoracic spine.
- Help plan middle-back or thoracic spine surgery.
- Monitor the changes in the middle-back after an operation done within the past 10 years.
Your doctor may also ask you to take the Thoracic Spine MRI (Mid-Back) to confirm the diagnosis for abnormalities in the middle-back area. Your doctor may even recommend the Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) and Calcium tests to check the status of your metabolism and measure the level of calcium in your blood. Depending on the results, your doctor will confirm the diagnosis and plan your treatment.
How is a Thoracic Spine X-Ray Performed?
- Before starting the thoracic spine X-ray, you will have to remove all the metal objects on your body including eyeglasses, jewelry, hairpins, and dentures.
- Depending on your condition, a technologist will ask you to lie down on your back on a special radiology table (if you have a suspected spinal injury) otherwise you will be asked to sit straight on the table.
- The X-ray machine will be placed in front of your middle-back, while a specialized plate containing the X-ray film will be positioned behind it.
- The X-ray machine will then send a beam of X-ray radiation through your middle-back and will take an image that will be displayed on a monitor.
- The technologist will then ask you to lie in a different position to obtain the necessary view and will again take an image. This process will be repeated until all the necessary views have been obtained.
- At certain points during the scan, the technologist will ask you to sit still and hold your breath for 10 to 12 seconds. Make sure you don’t move during the scan as any movement can blur the images.
How Long Does a Thoracic Spine X-Ray Take?
A thoracic spine X-ray is usually completed within 15 minutes, but the actual exposure time to radiation is usually less than a second.
Is Radiation Involved in a Thoracic Spine X-Ray?
Yes. An X-ray is an imaging test that involves a small amount of radiation to show images of the organs, tissues, and bones of the body.
Are There Any Risks in Taking a Thoracic Spine X-Ray?
- The risk for radiation exposure is low in a single X-ray. However, the effect of radiation and the risk of developing cancer due to radiation increases with every X-ray a person gets.
- Developing babies are sensitive to radiation and are at more risk, so women should inform their doctors and the X-ray technicians if they are pregnant.
When Will I Receive My Results?
Once the Thoracic Spine X-ray is completed, you will receive your results within 3-5 business days in your LabFinder portal.
How Should I Prepare for a Thoracic Spine X-Ray?
Please refer to the simple preparation guidelines given below or consult with your doctor or radiology center where you are being treated. Do not forget to bring your LabFinder Order and Insurance Card to your appointment.