Dionei Freitas Morais, João Simão de Melo Neto, Lucas Crociati Meguins, Sara Eleodoro Mussi, José Roberto Lopes Ferraz Filho, Waldir Antônio Tognola

June 2014, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1457 - 1463 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-013-3047-3

First Online: 04 October 2013


To assess the clinical application of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with acute spinal cord trauma (SCT) according to the type, extension, and severity of injury and the clinical–radiological correlation.


Diagnostic imaging [computed tomography (CT) and MRI] tests of 98 patients with acute SCT were analyzed to assess their clinical diagnostic value. The following radiological findings of SCT were investigated: vertebral compression fractures, bursts and dislocations, posterior element fractures, C1 and C2 lesions, vertebral listhesis, bone swelling, spinal canal compression, disk herniation, extradural hematoma, spinal cord contusions, spinal cord swelling, and posterior ligamentous complex (PLC) injuries.


The radiological findings were better visualized using MRI, except for the posterior elements (p = 0.001), which were better identified with CT. A total of 271 lesions were diagnosed as follows: 217 using MRI, 154 using CT, and 100 (36.9 %) using both MRI and CT. MRI detected 117 more lesions than CT.


MRI was significantly superior to CT in the diagnosis of bone swelling, PLC injury, disk herniation, spinal canal compression, spinal cord contusion and swelling present in SCT. MRI detected a larger number of lesions than CT and is highly useful for the diagnosis of soft tissue and intrathecal injuries.

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