What: The most frequent use of spinal CT is to detect — or rule out — spinal column damage in patients who have been injured.

In patients with narrowing of the spinal canal, vertebral fracture, infection or degenerative disease such as arthritis, CT of the spine may provide important information when performed alone or in addition to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). CT scanning of the spine is also performed to:

  • Evaluate the spine before and after surgery.
  • Detect various types of tumors in the vertebral column, including those that have spread from another area of the body. Some tumors that can arise elsewhere are first identified by finding deposits of malignant cells in the vertebrae; prostate cancer is an example.
  • Help diagnose spinal pain, such as a herniated intervertebral disk.
  • Accurately measure bone density in the spine and predict whether vertebral fractures are likely to occur in patients at risk of osteoporosis.