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Imaging in chronic spinal cord injury--indications and benefits.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
European Journal of Radiology
0720-048X
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
42
Issue
2
Pages
135–153
Identifiers
PMID: 11976011
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

As most patients who have suffered spinal cord injury can now expect a normal life span, the late complications of these injuries are seen increasingly frequently. Regular surveillance of both the renal tract and the central nervous system (CNS) is important as the treatment of impending, potentially fatal complications can be implemented before damage has progressed too far. Renal tract complications are particularly dangerous as they are often clinically silent but regular surveillance to detect early deterioration in renal function, particularly from reversible causes such as reflux or obstruction can pre-empt problems. Follow-up protocols depend on the bladder management regime but most centres advocate regular ultrasound with less frequent isotope function studies. With the increasing ability to diagnose and treat the neurological complications, surveillance of the state of the spinal cord with MRI is also important and many centres now advocate checks every few years with sagittal midline T2W sections are sufficient unless changes are noted, when axial T1W sections can be added without significant examination time penalty. Imaging is critical in acute problems. In addition to suffering from the usual normal conditions, patients with spinal cord injury suffer others peculiar to, or particularly related to, the injury, which may be missed as their symptomatology is greatly altered by their paraplegic or quadriplegic status and they may often present as generally unwell but with no obvious cause. This review discusses the role of radiology in routine surveillance of the CNS and the renal tract as well as in assessing specific conditions such as deteriorating neurology or renal function, pain, spinal instability, pressure sores, ectopic ossification, muscular spasm, spinal instability, airway problems and elective operations on the renal tract.

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