Scottie dog sign (spine)

Last revised by Craig Hacking on 28 Oct 2020

The Scottie dog sign (often seen spelled Scotty but Scottie is the correct spelling) refers to the normal appearance of the lumbar spine when seen on oblique radiographic projection. On oblique views, the posterior elements of the vertebra form the figure of a Scottie dog with:

  • the transverse process being the nose
  • the pedicle forming the eye
  • the inferior articular facet being the front leg
  • the superior articular facet representing the ear
  • the pars interarticularis (the portion of the lamina that lies between the facets) equivalent to the neck of the dog

If spondylolysis is present, the pars interarticularis, or the neck of the dog, will have a defect or break. It often looks as if the dog has a collar around the neck (or decapitation for those with a bloodier imagination).

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