PURPOSE: To reassess the diagnostic value of plain radiographs, compared with computed tomography, in thediagnosis of acute traumatic spinal fracture. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Forty-six patients (total 64 cases) withacute traumatic spinal fracture were studied using plain radiographs and computed tomography. Fracture site andtype (according to the three-column theory), classification as major or minor injury, stability of fracture, andthe presence of associated soft tissue change were evaluated on plain radiographs and CT. The results of the twoimaging techniques were compared. RESULTS: Excluding eight cases of C1 and C2 fractures, 41 cases involvedfractures of the vertebral body, and 15 involved only the posterior column. Plain radiographs and CT showed,respectively, 27 and 25 cases of simple compression fracture, 13 and 16 of bursting fracture. One case ofcompression fracture was not detected on plain radiographs. The results of classification as major (43/56) orminor (13/56) injury were equivalent on plain and CT films. For the evalvation of unstable fracture, plainradiographs were superior to CT(stable fracture, 46/64; unstable fracture, 18/64), while for the evaluation ofsoft tissue change, CT was better than plain radiographs. CONCLUSION: If correct procedures are meticulouslyadhered to, plain radiographs of acute traumatic spinal injury provide good information for the diagnosis oftraumatic fracture.