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A Comparison of the Diagnostic Performances of Visceral Organ-Targeted Versus Spine-Targeted Protocols for the Evaluation of Spinal Fractures Using Sixteen-Channel Multidetector Row Computed Tomography: Is Additional Spine-Targeted Computed Tomography Necessary to Evaluate Thoracolumbar Spinal Fractures in Blunt Trauma Victims?

Kim, Sungjun MD; Yoon, Choon Sik MD; Ryu, Jeong Ah MD; Lee, Sungah MD; Park, Ye-Soo MD; Kim, Sam Soo MD; Lee, Young Han MD; Suh, Jin-Suck MD

Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: August 2010 - Volume 69 - Issue 2 - p 437-446
doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181e491d8
Original Article

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.

From the Department of Radiology (S.K., S.S.K.), Kangwon National University College of Medicine, Chuncheon, Kangwon-Do, South Korea; Department of Radiology (S.K., C.S.Y.), Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea; Departments of Radiology (S.K., J.A.R.) and Orthopedic Surgery (Y.-S.P.), Guri Hospital, Hanyang University, Gyunggi-Do, South Korea; Department of Radiology (S.L.), Bestian Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea; and Department of Radiology (Y.H.L., J.-S.S.), Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea.

Submitted for publication January 28, 2009.

Accepted for publication April 23, 2010.

Supported by the research fund of Hanyang University (2005-000-0000-1918).

Address for reprints: Sungjun Kim, MD, Department of Radiology, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, 146-92 Dogok-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul 135-720, South Korea; email:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.