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ARRS: CT Beats Radiographs in Lumbar Fracture Diagnosis

High accuracy of abdomen and pelvis computed tomography suggests that plain radiographs are of no extra benefit

MONDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- In patients with suspected lumbar spine fractures, routine trauma abdomen and pelvis computed tomography (CT) is a more accurate diagnostic tool than plain lumbar spine radiographs, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Roentgen Ray Society in Orlando, Fla.

Sangita Kapur, M.D., of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and colleagues studied 932 patients, 180 (19.3 percent) of whom had a confirmed lumbar spine fracture.

The researchers found that computed tomography identified 165 fractures (91.7 percent) while plain radiographs identified 101 fractures (56.4 percent). Of the 15 fractures (8.3 percent) missed by computed tomography, they found that 11 were compression deformities of indeterminate age, three were possible transverse process fractures, and one was a superior end plate fracture.

"The results of our study determined that lumbar spine radiographs did not provide additional information in trauma patients who underwent abdomen and pelvis computed tomography with lateral scout," Kapur said in a statement. "If our results are applied to clinical practice and lumbar spine plain films are not routinely obtained, it will help save critical time for these patients and also save valuable resources. Unnecessary radiation exposure can also be avoided."

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