Neuroimaging in traumatic spinal cord injury: An evidence-based review for clinical practice and research

Short Title:
Neuroimaging in traumatic spinal cord injury: An evidence-based review for clinical practice and research
Model System:
Reference Type:
Journal Article
Accession No.:
J Spinal Cord Med
Year, Volume, Issue, Page(s):
2007, vol. 30, issue 3, pp 205-214
Publication Website:
OBJECTIVE: To perform an evidence-based review of the literature on neuroimaging techniques utilized in spinal cord injury clinical practice and research. METHODS: A search of the medical literature for articles on specific neuroimaging techniques used in SCI resulted in 2,302 published reports. Review at the abstract and full report level yielded 99 clinical and preclinical articles that were evaluated in detail. Sixty nine were clinical research studies subjected to quality of evidence grading. Twenty-three articles were drawn from the pre-clinical animal model literature and used for supportive evidence. Seven review articles were included to add an element of previous syntheses of current thinking on neuroimaging topics to the committee process (the review articles were not graded for quality of evidence). A list of clinical and research questions that might be answered on a variety of neuroimaging topics was created for use in article review. Recommendations on the use of neuroimaging in spinal cord injury treatment and research were made based on the quality of evidence. RESULTS: Of the 69 original clinical research articles covering a range of neuroimaging questions, only one was judged to provide Class I evidence, 22 provided Class II evidence, 17 Class III evidence, and 29 Class IV evidence. RECOMMENDATIONS: MRI should be used as the imaging modality of choice for evaluation of the spinal cord after injury. CT and plain radiography should be used to assess the bony anatomy of the spine in patients with SCI. MRI may be used to identify the location of spinal cord injury. MRI may be used to demonstrate the degree of spinal cord compression after SCI. MRI findings of parenchymal hemorrhage/ contusion, edema, and spinal cord disruption in acute and subacute SCI may contribute to the understanding of severity of injury and prognosis for neurological improvement. MRI-Diffusion Weighted Imaging may be useful in quantifying the extent of axonal loss after spinal cord injury. Functional MRI may be useful in measuring the anatomic functional/metabolic correlates of sensory-motor activities in persons with SCI. MR Spectroscopy may be used to measure the biochemical characteristics of the brain and spinal cord following SCI. Intraoperative Spinal Sonography may be used to identify spinal and spinal cord anatomy and gross pathology during surgical procedures. Further research in these areas is warranted to improve the strength of evidence supporting the use of neuroimaging modalities. Positron Emission Tomography may be used to assess metabolic activity of CNS tissue (brain and spinal cord) in patients with SCI.
Lammertse, D.; Dungan, D.; Dreisbach, J.; Falci, S.; Flanders, A.; Marino, R.; Schwartz, E.
Author Address(es):
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Univeristy of Colorado Denver Health Science Center, Denver Cororado, USA.
Participating Centers:

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