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4. Cervical spine radiograph, lateral projection

Note the normal lordosis.

Atlas, the C1 vertebra, is ring shaped but casts two distinct parts to its shadow in this view: the anterior and posterior arches.

This is a very useful view to check the alignment of the seven cervical vertebrae÷imagine four longitudinal lines that can be traced along the cervical spine. From anterior to posterior these are located:

    1. along the anterior surfaces of the vertebral bodies
    2. along the posterior surfaces of the vertebral bodies
    3. along the linear densities at the base of each spinous process (called the spino-laminar line)
    4. along the tips of the spinous processes

When the vertebrae are normally aligned there will be no abrupt step offs or breaks in continuity in these lines. The spinal canal, containing the spinal cord, is bounded anteriorly by the second of these lines and posteriorly by the third. (See Image #26, median MR of the cervical spine).