Emergency Radiology

, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 493–500 | Cite as

The utility of whole spine survey MRI in blunt trauma patients sustaining single level or contiguous spinal fractures

  • Kofi-Buaku AtsinaEmail author
  • Aleksandr Rozenberg
  • Santosh Kumar Selvarajan
Original Article



To determine the utility of obtaining whole-spine survey MRI after a whole-spine CT diagnoses single level or contiguous fractures.


A retrospective search from 2015 to 2017 was performed using an institutional PACS database for consecutive patients who sustained spinal fractures from blunt injury. Only patients who received whole-spine CT followed by whole-spine MRI were included in the study. All cases had sagittal T2-weighted and Short TI (Tau) inversion recovery (STIR) imaging of the entire spine with additional T1 and T2-weighted axial imaging covering the known injury. Reports from the whole-spine CTs were compared to the reports of the whole-spine MRI to determine if additional bony and soft tissue injury were identified on subsequent MRI.


A total of 156 patients met the inclusion criteria, with an average age of 59.5 ± 20.6 years. Twenty-nine patients (18.5%) had a whole-spine MRI that demonstrated an additional bony ± soft tissue injury. A 95.1% of the additional injuries were osseous contusions or vertebral body compression fractures without significant loss of height. The distance between the original injury on CT and the additional injury on MR ranged from 1 to 13 vertebrae. A 82.8% of the additional injuries occurred within 1 to 8 vertebrae levels of the primary injury and most commonly in the thoracic spine.


Most additional bony injuries detected on MRI are bone contusions and mild compression fractures, which are unlikely to alter management. However, if screening MRI is performed for additional bony injuries, we posit that a targeted regional spinal MRI is adequate.


Whole-spine CT Whole-spine MRI Screening MRI Single level fracture Contiguous fracture Blunt trauma 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© American Society of Emergency Radiology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyThomas Jefferson University HospitalsPhiladelphiaUSA

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