Scientific article
Open access

Occult Disco-Ligamentous Lesions of the Subaxial c-Spine-A Comparison of Preoperative Imaging Findings and Intraoperative Site Inspection

Published inDiagnostics, vol. 11, no. 3, 447
Publication date2021

Despite the general acceptance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as the gold standard for diagnostics of traumatic disco-ligamentous injuries in the subaxial cervical spine, clinical experience shows cases where no lesion is detected in MRI exams but obtained during surgery. The aim of this study was to compare intraoperative site inspection to preoperative imaging findings and to identify radiological features of patients having a risk for under- or over-estimating disco-ligamentous lesions. We performed a retrospective analysis of our clinical database, considering all patients who underwent surgical treatment of the cervical spine via an anterior approach after trauma between June 2008 and April 2018. Only patients with availability of immediate preoperative computed tomography (CT), 3-Tesla MRI scans, and information about intraoperative findings were considered. Results of preoperative imaging were set in context to intraoperative findings, and receiver operator characteristics (ROC) were calculated. Out of 144 patients receiving anterior cervical surgery after trauma, 83 patients (mean age: 59.4 ± 20.5 years, age range: 12-94 years, 63.9% males) were included in this study. Included patients underwent surgical treatment via anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF; 79 patients) or anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (4 patients) with ventral plating. Comparing preoperative imaging findings to intraoperative site inspection, a discrepancy between imaging and surgical findings was revealed in 14 patients, leading to an overall specificity/sensitivity of preoperative imaging to identify disco-ligamentous lesions of the cervical spine of 100%/77.4%. Yet, adding the existence of prevertebral hematoma and/or vertebral fractures according to preoperative imaging improved the sensitivity to 95.2%. Lack of sensitivity was most likely related to severe cervical spondylosis, rendering correct radiological reporting difficult. Thus, the risk of missing a traumatic disco-ligamentous injury of the cervical spine in imaging seems to be a particular threat in patients with preexisting degenerative cervical spondylosis. In conclusion, incorporating the existence of prevertebral hematoma and/or vertebral fractures can significantly improve diagnostic yield.

  • Cervical spine trauma
  • Computed tomography
  • Degenerative cervical spondylosis
  • Disco-ligamentous injuries
  • Intervertebral disc
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
Citation (ISO format)
JANSSEN, Insa et al. Occult Disco-Ligamentous Lesions of the Subaxial c-Spine-A Comparison of Preoperative Imaging Findings and Intraoperative Site Inspection. In: Diagnostics, 2021, vol. 11, n° 3, p. 447. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics11030447
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal2075-4418

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Creation10/19/2021 11:27:00 AM
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