Patients with spinal cord injuries could benefit from early magnetic resonance imaging, according to the findings of a new study. According to neuroscientists in Canada MRI technology could determine if performing surgery would benefit patients. They say they found that trauma-induced spinal cord compression on MRIs predict a poorer neurological recovery.
Surgery can relieve spinal cord compression. However, unless surgeons are fairly certain the procedure will benefit the patient, they are generally reluctant to operate because of the risks. Thus researchers say this study should remove that uncertainty.
For the study researchers evaluated the records of 22 patients who were admitted to the hospital with spinal cord injury and who were assessed with both MRI and computed tomography at admission and at a follow-up examination about 10 months later. They examined whether there is an association between the degree of spinal cord injury compression in the period just after traumatic injury and clinical neurological outcome. They found evidence of spinal cord compression on MRI, but not CT, predicted a poorer recovery.
In conclusion researchers say MRI should be done whenever feasible in all patients with an acute spinal cord injury to evaluate the extent of spinal cord compression.