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Scripta Scientifica Medica

Cervical Spine Trauma

KP Chupetlovska, MB Penkov


BACKGROUND: Knowing that the cervical spine is susceptible to injury due to its high mobility and small vertebral body size, and keeping in mind the possibly fatal consequences of a spinal cord injury, all radiologists should be able to diagnose cervical spine trauma correctly.

LEARNING POINTS: To provide a review of the most common cervical spine injuries, to summarize their mechanisms and appearances and to present the systems to classify and the radiographic protocols to identify them.

MAIN BODY: First of all, a radiologist should be familiar with the functional anatomy of the cervical spine. Secondly, it is important to keep in mind the most common mechanisms of the cervical spine trauma and the unique fracture patterns that they are associated with. In addition, there are anatomical differences between children and adults, which should be considered when interpreting pediatric cases.

Plain radiographs are cheap, readily available, and approximately 85% of cervical spine injuries can be detected in lateral view radiographs. Therefore, it is evident why X-ray remains the primary method of assessing cervical trauma. However, when it comes to fractures, it is MDCT that has the highest sensitivity and MRI is unmatched in assessing soft tissue pathology.

CONCLUSION: Recognizing, classifying spinal injury and describing the associated pathology, is essential to the survival and recovery of the patients. Although MDCT scanning is the most efficient method for detecting and eliminating a spine injury, and MRI is the best method in evaluating intervertebral disc or ligament pathology, X-ray remains the mainstay in assessing spine trauma patients.


cervical spine trauma, spine injury, protocols, classification

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About The Authors

KP Chupetlovska

MB Penkov

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