Exclusion of unstable cervical spine injury in obtunded patients with blunt trauma: is MR imaging needed when multi-detector row CT findings are normal?
Hogan GJ, Mirvis SE, Shanmuganathan K, Scalea TM
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 22 S Greene St, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
PURPOSE: To retrospectively determine what information, if any, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the cervical spine in obtunded and/or "unreliable" patients with blunt trauma adds to multi-detector row computed tomography (CT) of the entire cervical spine (including routine multiplanar sagittal and coronal reformations) when the CT findings are normal.
RESULTS: MR images were negative for acute injury in 354 of the 366 patients and negative for cervical spine ligamentous injury in 362. Seven of the 366 patients had cervical cord contusions, four patients had ligamentous injuries, three patients had intervertebral disk edema, and one patient had a cord contusion, a ligamentous injury, and an intervertebral disk injury. Four patients had ligamentous injuries; however, all of these patients had ligament injuries limited to only one of the three columns of cervical spine ligament support. Multi-detector row CT had negative predictive values of 98.9% (362 of 366 patients) for ligament injury and 100% (366 of 366 patients) for unstable cervical spine injury.
CONCLUSION: A normal multi-detector row CT scan of the total cervical spine in obtunded and/or "unreliable" patients with blunt trauma enabled the authors to exclude unstable injuries on the basis of findings at follow-up cervical spine MR imaging.
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Radiology. 2005 Oct;237(1):106-13