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Detection of vertebral artery injury after cervical spine trauma using magnetic resonance angiography

Detection of vertebral artery injury after cervical spine trauma using magnetic resonance angiography

Journal of Trauma 46(4): 660-666

Background: We prospectively describe the incidence, magnetic resonance-based diagnosis, and treatment of vertebral artery (VA) injury resulting from closed cervical spine trauma. Methods: Patients with fracture or dislocation on plain radiographic studies underwent computed tomography. Among these patients, the subset with computed tomographic evidence of foramen transversarium (FT) fracture underwent magnetic resonance angiography as early as possible. Results: During a 16-month period, 38 patients with closed cervical trauma were treated. Twelve patients demonstrated fracture extension through at least one FT by computed tomography. Among these patients, four showed unilateral VA injury by magnetic resonance angiography, all ipsilateral to the fractured FT. Three cases of VA occlusion and one of focal narrowing were demonstrated. All four patients were initially treated with aspirin, and two were systemically anticoagulated. None developed irreversible neurologic deficits from the VA compromise. Conclusion: Our data suggest that the incidence of VA injury in closed cervical spine trauma is significant and that FT fractures warrant flow-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging.

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Accession: 010438018

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PMID: 10217231

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