BACKGROUND: This study aimed to compare children diagnosed with cervical spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality (SCIWORA) relative to whether there is evidence of cervical spinal cord abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). METHODS: We conducted a planned subanalysis of a cohort of children younger than 16 years with blunt cervical spine injury presenting to Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network centers from January 2000 to December 2004 who underwent cervical MRI and did not have bony or ligamentous injury identified on neuroimaging. We defined SCIWORA with normal MRI finding as children with clinical evidence of cervical cord injury and a normal MRI finding and compared them with children with SCIWORA who had cervical cord signal changes on MRI (abnormal MRI finding). RESULTS: Of the children diagnosed with cervical spine injury, 55% (297 of 540) were imaged with MRI; 69 had no bony or ligamentous injuries and were diagnosed with SCIWORA by clinical evaluation; 54 (78%) had normal MRI finding, and 15 (22%) had cervical cord signal changes on MRI (abnormal MRI finding). Children with abnormal MRI findings were more likely to receive operative stabilization (0% normal MRI finding vs. 20% abnormal MRI finding) and have persistent neurologic deficits at initial hospital discharge (6% normal MRI finding vs. 67% abnormal MRI finding). CONCLUSION: Children diagnosed with SCIWORA but with normal MRI finding in our cohort presented differently and had substantially more favorable clinical outcomes than those with cervical cord abnormalities on MRI.
- Emergency medicine
- Spinal cord
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine