Lateral Radiography Can Measure Prevertebral Soft Tissue Width

Prevertebral soft tissue width significantly dependent on gender and spinal level

TUESDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- Use of upright magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has validated the use of lateral radiography for measuring prevertebral soft tissue (PVST) width, which is dependent on spinal level and gender, according to a study published in the May issue of The Spine Journal.

Brian D. Stemper, Ph.D., from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and colleagues validated lateral radiographic measurements of PVST width using upright weight-bearing MRI in 11 male and eight female asymptomatic volunteers with no history of cervical spine injury or degenerative disease. They quantified the effects of spinal level and gender on PVST width measurements taken from cervical level C2 to C7 to identify statistically significant differences.

The investigators found that PVST width measured by MRI was similar in magnitude and level-by-level trends to measurements attained using lateral radiography. Gender and spinal level significantly affected the width magnitudes. All measurements at C3 and C6 were below the accepted normal values of 7 mm and 20 mm, respectively. Men showed greater PVST width at the upper and lower extents of the cervical spine.

"The present study served two primary purposes. The clinical use of lateral radiography to measure PVST width was validated using MRIs of 19 normal volunteers in the upright seated orientation," the authors write. "Second, normative data provided in this study have elucidated the dependence of cervical PVST width on spinal level and gender."

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