Are plain radiographs sufficient to exclude cervical spine injuries in low-risk adults?

TitleAre plain radiographs sufficient to exclude cervical spine injuries in low-risk adults?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHunter BR, Keim SM, Seupaul RA, Hern G
JournalJ Emerg Med
Volume46
Issue2
Pagination257-63
Date Published2014 Feb
ISSN Number0736-4679
KeywordsAdult, Cervical Vertebrae, Evidence-Based Medicine, Humans, Male, Predictive Value of Tests, Sensitivity and Specificity, Spinal Injuries, Wounds, Nonpenetrating
Abstract

BACKGROUND: The routine use of clinical decision rules and three-view plain radiography to clear the cervical spine in blunt trauma patients has been recently called into question.

CLINICAL QUESTION: In low-risk adult blunt trauma patients, can plain radiographs adequately exclude cervical spine injury when clinical prediction rules cannot?

EVIDENCE REVIEW: Four observational studies investigating the performance of plain radiographs in detecting cervical spine injury in low-risk adult blunt trauma patients were reviewed.

CONCLUSION: The consistently poor performance of plain radiographs to rule out cervical spine injury in adult blunt trauma victims is concerning. Large, rigorously performed prospective trials focusing on low- or low/moderate-risk patients will be needed to truly define the utility of plain radiographs of the cervical spine in blunt trauma.

DOI10.1016/j.jemermed.2013.08.094
Alternate JournalJ Emerg Med
PubMed ID24342907
Faculty Reference: 
Samuel M. Keim, MD, MS