Learn how it's Safe@Inova

Get the facts on how we're ensuring safety at our locations, our PPE safety requirements, and more, so you know it's safe to receive the care you need—as well as safe for us to continue delivering your care. Whether your visit is for routine care, emergency care, or COVID-19 care, you have a nationally recognized leader in safety, ready for you. See temporary restricted visitation policy and COVID-19 vaccine update.

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COVID-19 Inova Spine Program Scheduling Appointments Notice

Inova is taking the appropriate steps to protect the safety of our patients, community, team members and caregivers. Virtual visits are now being offered. Please call 703-776-4700 to schedule your spine appointment or change an existing appointment. If you are experiencing a fever or symptoms of respiratory infection, such as cough or difficulty breathing, or had exposure to a COVID-19 patient, please contact your primary care physician and arrange a virtual visit or primary care clinic appointment if indicated.

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Diagnosing Spine and Back Conditions

The professionals with Inova Spine Program utilize Inova's extensive range of state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tests and procedures to determine and type and extent of your back problem.

Need to schedule an imaging exam? Check for a convenient Inova location or call
571-423-5400 to make an appointment (Loudoun locations call 703-858-6470).

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

MRI provides an unparalleled view of inside the human body using a huge magnet, radio waves and computer technology to produce high quality images.

MRI exams are safe, painless and are used to diagnose many conditions involving the brain, spine, joints, muscles, abdomen, breast, heart, prostate and blood vessels.

How does it work? MRI relies on the radio frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The body is made up primarily of water and fat, which have many hydrogen nuclei. Hydrogen nuclei have properties that when placed within a magnetic field will align themselves in the same direction and spin when a radio frequency wave is introduced. This spin creates heat, which is released from the spinning nuclei and collected by the scanner to produce an image through specialized computer processing.

Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan

CT scans are noninvasive and use a combination of X-ray and computer technology to show detailed images of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than standard X-rays.

Digital X-ray

X-ray is the oldest and still most commonly used type of imaging to examine different parts of the body and to help a physician diagnose medical conditions.


Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to obtain images inside the body. The sound wave echoes are recorded and displayed as a real-time visual image. Ultrasound imaging can show tears in ligaments, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissue masses in the back.

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