A pictorial review of imaging findings associated with upper cervical trauma
Rahim Ismail, Mark Manganaro, Derrek Schartz, Logan Worley, Alexander Kessler
Emerg Radiol . 2023 Aug;30(4):485-497. doi: 10.1007/s10140-023-02141-w. Epub 2023 May 31.
The diagnosis of cervical spine injury in the emergency department remains a critical skill of emergency room physicians as well as radiologists. Such diagnoses are often associated with high morbidity and mortality unless readily identified and treated appropriately. Both computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) often are crucial in the workup of spinal injury and play a key role in arriving at a diagnosis. Unfortunately, missed cervical spine injuries are not necessarily uncommon and often precede detrimental neurologic sequalae. With the increase in whole-body imaging ordered from the emergency department, it is critical for radiologists to be acutely aware of key imaging features associated with upper cervical trauma, possible mimics, and radiographic clues suggesting potential high-risk patient populations. This pictorial review will cover key imaging features from several different imaging modalities associated with upper cervical spine trauma, explore patient epidemiology, mechanism, and presentation, as well as identify confounding radiographic signs to aid in confident and accurate diagnoses.