Skeletal survey

Last revised by Andrew Murphy on 23 Mar 2023

A skeletal survey is a series of radiographs, performed systematically to cover the entire skeleton or the anatomic regions appropriate for the clinical indications.

Its objective is to accurately identify focal and diffuse abnormalities of the skeleton and to differentiate them from developmental changes and other anatomic variants that may occur in infants and children.

A typical skeletal survey using conventional x-ray includes bilateral anteroposterior (AP) and posteroanterior (PA) projections of hands, forearms, humerus, feet, leg, femur, pelvis, spine and skull. A joint survey includes bilateral AP and PA views of wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee, hip and sacroiliac joints.

CT and MRI is also seen to be useful in demonstrating bone abnormality in multiple myeloma1. For non accidental injury however, x-ray is preferred due to the lower radiation dose to pediatric patients.


Common indications of skeletal survey include:

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: multiple myeloma
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  • Case 2: osteogenesis imperfecta
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