Acute spinal ligament disruption: MR imaging with anatomic correlation.
Disruption of spinal ligaments can lead to instability that jeopardizes the spinal cord and nerve roots. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging can directly image spinal ligaments; however, the sensitivity with which this modality demonstrates ligament injury has, to the authors' knowledge, not been reported. On a biomechanical testing machine, 28 cadaveric spines were subjected to controlled injury that resulted in ligament tears. The spines were then imaged with plain radiography, computed tomography, and MR imaging (1.5 T). The images were analyzed for evidence of ligament injury before dissection of the specimen. Forty-one of 52 (79%) ligament tears of various types were correctly identified at MR imaging. Disruptions of the anterior and posterior longitudinal ligaments were most conspicuous and were detected in all seven cases in which they were present (no false-positive or false-negative results); disruptions of the ligamentum flavum, capsular ligaments, and interspinous ligaments could also be identified but less reliably (three false-positive and 11 false-negative results). That MR imaging can reliably and directly allow assessment of spinal ligament disruption in this in vitro model suggests its potential utility for this assessment in patients.
Kliewer, MA; Gray, L; Paver, J; Richardson, WD; Vogler, JB; McElhaney, JH; Myers, BS
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