Multidetector CT of blunt cervical spine trauma in adults

David Dreizin, Michael Letzing, Clint W. Sliker, Falgun H. Chokshi, Uttam Bodanapally, Stuart E. Mirvis, Robert M. Quencer, Felipe Munera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


A number of new developments in cervical spine imaging have transpired since the introduction of 64-section computed tomographic (CT) scanners in 2004. An increasing body of evidence favors the use of multidetector CT as a stand-alone screening test for excluding cervical injuries in polytrauma patients with obtundation. A new grading scale that is based on CT and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging findings, the cervical spine Subaxial Injury Classification and Scoring (SLIC) system, is gaining acceptance among spine surgeons. Radiographic measurements described for the evaluation of craniocervical distraction injuries are now being reevaluated with the use of multidetector CT. Although most patients with blunt trauma are now treated nonsurgically, evolution in the understanding of spinal stability, as well as the development of new surgical techniques and hardware, has driven management strategies that are increasingly favorable toward surgical intervention. It is therefore essential that radiologists recognize findings that distinguish injuries with ligamentous instability or a high likelihood of nonfusion that require surgical stabilization from those that are classically stable and can be treated with a collar or halo vest alone. The purpose of this article is to review the spectrum of cervical spine injuries, from the craniocervical junction through the subaxial spine, and present the most widely used grading systems for each injury type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1842-1865
Number of pages24
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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