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Chiropractic Research Review

Cervical Spine Advanced Imaging...Explained

In this article, the authors describe the current state of the art in imaging of the cervical spine, based on their own experience and an analysis of the pertinent literature. The article takes readers through the mechanisms of the latest imaging modalities, focusing on various conditions that indicate the need for using MRI and CT, including:

* cervical spondylosis,
* trauma,
* infection,
* tumors and cord lesions.

It explains how one modality or the other in different situations can contribute best to improved diagnosis.

The authors clearly state that there is no one perfect imaging study:

"The ideal imaging test would have perfect sensitivity and specificity. Although, as is true in most areas of imaging, the perfect test does not exist in the evaluation of the cervical spine, the emergence of multiplanar compound tomography (CT) and later, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has significantly improved the radiologist's ability to determine normal and abnormal anatomy in a noninterventional fashion."

Conclusions: The latest imaging techniques, including spiral CT and MRI, permit detailed depiction of cervical spine anatomy and disease. But even the most precise anatomical abnormalities on an imaging study do not automatically imply causality; imaging findings must correlate with the clinical history and examination.

Note: This is an excellent, reader-friendly clinician's review and update on cervical spine imaging.

Kaiser JA, Holland BA. Imaging of the cervical spine. Spine, Dec. 15, 1998;23(24), pp2701-12.

Chiropractic Research Review

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