What is the role of MRI in the workup of spinal cord injury (SCI)?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS, FAANS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is best for suspected spinal cord lesions, ligamentous injuries, or other soft-tissue injuries or pathology. This imaging modality should be used to evaluate nonosseous lesions, such as extradural spinal hematoma; abscess or tumor; disk rupture; and spinal cord hemorrhage, contusion, and/or edema.

Neurologic deterioration is usually caused by secondary injury, resulting in edema and/or hemorrhage. MRI is the best diagnostic image to depict these changes.

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