What is Swimmer’s View Xray?

The swimmers view is an xray the cervico-thoracic junction that  helps demonstrate the upper thoracic  and the seventh cervical vertebrae . The swimmer’s view is an important view for evaluating the relationship of the cervicothoracic junction and upper thoracic vertebrae C7 through T3.

Swimmer’s view xray is a difficult xray. Its positioning is difficult and requires high dosing. In case of trauma patients, this xray becomes even more difficult.

Due to this and better imaging with CT and MRI, swimmer’s view is not frequently done now a days.

Method of Swimmer’s View Xray

Basic purpose of swimmer’s view is to clear the humeral head out of  cervico-thoracic junction visualization. These techniques do this differently and are most commonly used for this x-ray.

Both Arms Up Method

Swimmer's View - Both Arms Up

Swimmer’s View – Both Arms Up Positioning

Swimmer's View - Both Arms Up Xray

Swimmer’s View – Both Arms Up Xray

Patient lies supine and arms are brought forward either by crossing in front of them or on to a bar attached to bucky.

One Arm Up, One Down

Swimmer's View - Arms Up Down Position

Swimmer’s View – Arms Up Down Position

Swimmer's View - Arms Up Down Xray

Swimmer’s View – Arms Up Down Xray

In this technique, one armis raises up like previous technique and other is pulled down.

A sponge under one shoulder can help to separate the humeral heads.

In both the above  methods, patient lies supine on her back and beam is directed  horizontally.

Supine Lateral

The patient lies on the side and the arms are rolled up and posteriorly. The technique also allows visualization of  thoracic spine as well.

As noted before, swimmer’s view xray is a difficult xray for both the radiographers and patient because of patient positioning. Many patients do not have enough flexibility in the shoulders so as to bring the arms in desired positions. In case of trauma patients, pulling or adjusting the arms may not be desirable for fear of worsening the cervical spine injury.

Older patients may not have enough flexibility to position and wait for exposure.

A CT or MRI is a better tool for examining these critical areas and should be be employed if available, especially in critical settings.

Images Credit:

Wikifoundry [Links below]




  1. Wikiradiography- The Swimmers Technique





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