Devoted to diagnostic and interventional spine imaging and therapeutics


Level 1 Trauma at an Inner City Hospital: Imaging Spectrum of Spinal Trauma 2011

General Spine

Narayan, Viswanadhan, MD
David, Saul, MD, Non ASSR Member



Spinal trauma is a serious condition, which must be identified readily as it has critical implications on patient outcome. The etiologies are vast ranging from blunt to penetrating, with a myriad of imaging presentations. Often if the patient has suffered a recent trauma, CT imaging maybe used for a rapid diagnosis of fractures. However, magnetic resonance imaging is also in the forefront in the diagnosis of spinal trauma, specifically when identifying pathology involving the spinal cord, and its associated complications. The purpose of our electronic exhibit is to present multiple cases to highlight the range of conditions as well as the mechanism of injury that lead to serious spinal trauma and present key features of their CT, MRI, and angiographic examinations.

Methods & Materials

Mutliple CT as well as 1.5 and 3T MRI images were reviewed over the past five years from multiple institutions.


We will present cases including bullet injury to the spinal cord causing gross transection, bilateral facet dislocation, Jefferson fracture from axial loading injury, acute cord compression related to an acutely herniated disc status post MVC, and additional cases highlighting imaging features of spinal trauma subsequent to blunt and penetrating trauma.


It is critically important to be familiar with the imaging features of spinal trauma. Additionally, a thorough understanding of mechanism of injury also provides insight into correlative imaging features. The literature clearly demonstrates marked improvement in patient morbidity and mortality when spinal trauma is accurately diagnosed. While there are classic imaging signs, it is also important to understand and identify potential imaging pitfalls as there may be dire implications. We hope that by showing the various entities leading to spinal trauma, a greater insight and understanding of this disease process will be obtained.