Imaging

Spinal Cord Trauma

Preliminary Diagnosis: Spinal cord trauma

I. What imaging technique is first-line for this diagnosis

  • Trauma spine MR protocol with STIR sequences.

II. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of this technique for diagnosis of spinal cord trauma.

Advantages

  • Offers exquisite detail and is highly sensitive and specific to evaluate for any cord abnormality/pathology.

  • Able to evaluate for any intradural or extradural abnormality, such as an epidural hematoma, with great accuracy.

  • Does not expose the patient to ionizing radiation.

Disadvantages

  • Expensive

  • Time-consuming

  • Requires significant patient cooperation to minimize motion artifact.

  • Inferior to CT in evaluating for any osseous abnormality.

III. What are the contraindications for the first-line imaging technique?

  • Contraindicated in patients containing non-MR compatible hardware.

  • Gadolinium contrast is contraindicated in patients with a GFR less than or equal to 30.

IV. What alternative imaging techniques are available?

  • No other specific imaging modalities are available to evaluate for cord pathology

V. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative techniques for diagnosis of spinal cord trauma.

  • Not applicable

VI. What are the contraindications for the alternative imaging techniques?

  • Not applicable

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