Imaging in spinal trauma

P. McNee, S. Gaba and E. McNally

in Oxford Textbook of Trauma and Orthopaedics

Second edition

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199550647
Published online April 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199608249 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Textbooks

Imaging in spinal trauma

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  • Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Clinical Radiology


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Clinical criteria and the nature of the injury determine who needs imaging

Plain films are still commonly employed though CT finds more fractures

Alignment, bony contour, cartilage (Disc and facets) and soft tissue are assessed in turn (ABC’S)

CT is superior to MRI in assessing the bony configuration of fracture

MRI is superior to CT in assessing the ligament tears and associated disc herniations

Plain films have little role in the assessment of more chronic back pain and radiculopathy

Sacral insufficiency fractures may be misdiagnosed as metastases on MRI.

Chapter.  5457 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery ; Clinical Radiology

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