Background: It remains to be determined whether spine-targeted computed tomography (thoracolumbar spine computed tomography [TLS-CT]) images and visceral organ-targeted CT (abdominopelvic [AP]-CT) images are comparable for the evaluation of thoracolumbar spinal fractures using 16-channel multidetector row CT. The elimination of an additional spine-targeted CT protocol would substantially reduce time, the storage burden, and potential patient radiation exposure.
Methods: A total of 420 vertebrae in 72 consecutive patients who underwent AP-CT to assess blunt traumatic injury and an additional CT examination using a TLS-CT protocol to evaluate spinal fractures were retrospectively evaluated. The AP-CT set (set A, reconstructed with using a wide display field of view [FOV] and a soft algorithm) and the TLS-CT set (set S, reconstructed using a narrow display FOV and a hard algorithm) were composed of axial plus reformatted sagittal or coronal images or both. Three radiologists independently reviewed all CT data retrospectively. Performances for detecting and typing fractures were compared by using areas under receiver operating characteristic curves and by determining concordance rates.
Results: The overall areas under the curves for sets S and A for fracture detection were 0.996 and 0.995, respectively; no significant difference was found between the two sets. Concordance rates for typing performance also showed no statistical significance between the two sets for any of the three observers.
Conclusion: Sixteen-channel multidetector row CT images reconstructed using a soft algorithm and a wide display FOV that cover the entire abdomen using a visceral organ-targeted protocol with 1.5-mm collimation are sufficient for the evaluation of spine fractures in trauma patients, given that multiplanar-reformatted images are provided.