MONDAY, Oct. 4, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Early magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of spinal cord injuries can help doctors identify patients who would benefit from surgery, says a Toronto Western Hospital study.
"The extent of spinal cord compression on MRI at the initial time of injury was strongly associated with the initial degree of neurological impairment and was highly predictive of neurological outcome in long-term follow-up," study author Dr. Julio C. Furlan said in a prepared statement.
The findings were presented Oct. 4 at the American Neurological Association annual meeting in Toronto.
In this study, Furlan and a colleague evaluated the records of 22 people with spinal cord injuries who were assessed with both MRI and computed tomography (CT) when they were admitted to a hospital and again about 10 months later. The researchers found that MRI evidence of spinal cord compression predicted a poorer recovery. The same was not true for CT.
"It is our view that MRI should be done whenever feasible in all patients with an acute spinal cord injury to evaluate the extent of spinal cord compression," study co-author Dr. Michael G. Fehlings said in a prepared statement.
"It is our practice to undertake urgent and thorough decompression of the spinal cord with the view of trying to maximize the extent of neurological recovery," Fehlings said.
He and Furlan recommend that an MRI be done after decompression to ensure that the spinal cord is adequately decompressed.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has more about spinal cord injuries.