II. Efficacy: Blunt Trauma

  1. Inadequate for most Trauma patients (Cervical Spine CT is preferred)
  2. Adequate visualization of the entire Cervical Spine is achieved in <30% of plain film C-Spine XRays
  3. Misses up to 16% of C-Spine Fractures in seriously injured, obtunded blunt Trauma patients
  4. However, NEXUS found that adequate 3-view C-Spine XRays have >99% Test Sensitivity for significant Cervical Spine Injury

III. Indications: Acute Trauma

  1. Decision rules for Cervical Spine imaging in general
    1. See Cervical Spine Imaging in Acute Traumatic Injury
    2. See NEXUS Criteria
    3. See Canadian Cervical Spine Rule
  2. Cases in which plain C-Spine XRay may be adequate in Trauma Evaluation
    1. Non-severe mechanism of injury (see Cervical Spine CT) and
    2. Adequate 3-view plain film C-Spine XRays can be obtained and
    3. Other CT imaging is not planned

IV. Imaging: Views -Primary

  1. Cross-Table Lateral C-Spine film
    1. Test Sensitivity: 60-80% of Cervical Fractures
    2. Must be adequate prior to other views (including visualization of C7-T1)
  2. AP C-Spine
  3. Open Mouth Odontoid view

V. Imaging: Views- Other

  1. Flexion-Extension XRay (F/E Views)
    1. Contraindications to flexion extension views
      1. Suspected Cervical Fracture
      2. Subluxation
    2. Not recommended in Trauma Evaluation
      1. Most Cervical Spine injuries if visible on plain xray will be seen on other views
      2. Flexion-Extension Views add little additional diagnostic value
      3. Inadequate visualization in up to one third of patients
      4. Inadequate and inaccurate in obtunded patients with blunt Trauma
      5. May be unsafe with risk of Cervical Spine Injury if underlying unstable Fracture
      6. Results in prolonged C-Collar use without benefit
      7. Oh (2016) Emerg Med Australas 28(4): 450-5 +PMID:27255183 [PubMed]
    3. Abnormal findings
      1. Adjacent discs with >3.5 mm horizontal displacement
      2. Posterior translation > 3.5 mm adjacent Vertebrae
      3. Displaced apophyseal joints
      4. Wide disc spaces
      5. Disc height >30% loss
      6. Pre-Vertebral Hematoma
  2. Oblique C-Spine XRay (shows foramen)
    1. May be indicated inc chronic radicular symptoms
    2. Largely replaced by MRI Cervical Spine

VI. References

  1. Jang and Kaji (2013) Crit Dec Emerg Med 27(6): 2-9
  2. Bagley (2006) Radiol Clin North Am 44(1): 1-12 [PubMed]

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Related Studies

Ontology: Radiography of cervical spine (C0203145)

Concepts Diagnostic Procedure (T060)
ICD10 58100-00
SnomedCT 145768001, 168574005, 66769009
CPT 72050, 72040
Dutch röntgenfoto van halswervel
French Radiographie du rachis cervical
German Roentgenaufnahme der Halswirbelsaeule
Italian Radiografia della colonna cervicale
Portuguese Raios X da coluna cervical
Spanish Radiografía de columna cervical, radiografía de la columna cervical (procedimiento), radiografía de la columna cervical, rayos X de la columna cervical
Japanese 頚椎X線, ケイツイXセン
Czech Rentgen krční páteře
English C-spine x-ray, x-ray of cervical spine, x-ray of cervical spine (procedure), cervical spine x-ray, spine cervical x-ray, x-ray cervical spine, cervical spine radiography, cervical spine x rays, Radiography of cervical spine, Cervical spine X-ray (procedure), Cervical spine X-ray, X-ray of cervical spine, Radiography of cervical spine (procedure), Radiography of cervical spine, NOS, X-ray of cervical spine, NOS, X-ray of the cervical spine, X-ray;spine;cervical
Hungarian Nyaki gerinc röntgen