The utility of magnetic resonance imaging for detecting unstable cervical spine injuries in the neurologically intact traumatized patient following negative computed tomography imaging

Jacob Fennessy, Joseph Wick, Fiona Scott, Rolando Figueroa Roberto, Yashar Javidan, Eric Klineberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Neurologically intact blunt trauma patients with persistent neck pain and negative computed tomography (CT) imaging frequently undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for evaluation of occult cervical spine injury. There is a paucity of data to support or refute this practice. This study was therefore performed to evaluate the utility of cervical spine MRI in neurologically intact blunt trauma patients with negative CT imaging. Methods: A retrospective review was performed of all neurologically intact blunt trauma patients presenting to a level 1 trauma center from 2005 to 2015 with persistent neck pain and negative CT imaging. The proportion of patients with positive MRI findings, subsequent treatment, and time required to obtain MRI results was evaluated. Results: Of 223 patients meeting inclusion criteria, 11 had positive MRI findings; however, no patients were found to have unstable injuries requiring surgical treatment. The process for a complete evaluation of unstable cervical spine injury from the time of obtaining a CT scan was 19 hours and 43 minutes. Conclusions: Eleven patients had positive MRI findings, yet these findings did not alter treatment. In contrast, the time required to obtain MRI results may substantially delay patient care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-907
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Spine Surgery
Volume14
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

Keywords

  • Blunt trauma
  • Cervical spine
  • Computed tomography
  • Ligamentous
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Occult injury
  • Posterior elements
  • Unstable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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