In order to determine the relevance of radiographs of the lumbar spine in an A&E department 225 consecutive patients presenting in a 6-month period with acute back pain were studied. An analysis of the number of radiographs performed and their association with particular factors in the history and examination of the patient was performed. A total of 108 patients had radiographs (48%), with a total of seven fractures (6% of radiographs). All the patients with fractures had a history of direct trauma. Radiographs had no bearing on the decision to admit the patient. The indications for radiography of the lumbar spine in the A&E department are discussed.
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