Correlation of MR images of disc injuries with anatomic sections in experimental thoracolumbar spine fractures
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This cadaver study evaluated the value of MR images for detection of acute intervertebral disc damage associated with fractures of the thoracolumbar spine. Damage to the intervertebral disc may be a major contributor to chronic instability in non-operative treatment or failure of fixation and recurrence of deformity in posterior fixation methods. MR imaging can help us to understand the injury patterns and their prognostic significance. However, before we can justify the use of MRI in clinical cases, determination of MRI’s ability to detect acute injury to the disc is necessary. Ten fresh cadaver specimens were used for this study. After obtaining radiograms and MR images, injuries were created with a weight-dropping apparatus using a variety of weights and compression angles. Post-injury radiograms and MR images were taken and the specimens were frozen at –20 °C. Slides of these specimens obtained with cryosection techniques were compared with MR images for evaluation of the damage to different parts of the discs. A total of 20 fractures were observed on cryosections. In 12 of the discs adjacent to fractured vertebral bodies, macroscopic damage was seen on the sections. These were all detected on the corresponding MR images. The study showed that MRI is able to detect acute, macroscopic injury to the intervertebral disc. It is therefore justified to use MR for the study of acute disc damage associated with thoracolumbar fractures.
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