Cervical spine injuries can involve the cervical vertebral column, intervertebral discs and cervical spine ligaments, and/or cervical spinal cord. The cervical spine accounts for ~50% of all spinal injuries.


5-10% of patients with blunt trauma have a cervical spine injury .


Patients can have a combination of injuries including:

  • blunt trauma: motor vehicle accident (40%), falls, sports injuries
  • penetrating trauma: gun shot injuries, stabbing

Radiographic features

CT and MRI both have roles to play. CT is used to assess patients who are obtunded, at high-risk, or those unable to be cleared by clinical criteria (e.g. NEXUS criteria, Canadian C-spine rule).

The majority of patients are imaged while being immobilized in a cervical spine collar. If the CT is reported as negative, the collar is typically removed (cervical spine collar clearance). A select few patients nevertheless require further assessment with MRI.

MRI is used to assess for discoligamentous injury but has a controversial role in patients who are obtunded and a normal CT with some advocating it as unnecessary due to the CT's high negative predictive value for unstable cervical spine injuries .

Please see individual articles listed above for further details in imaging findings.

See also

Siehe auch:
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