Utility of CT angiography in cervical spine trauma: analysis of radiation and cost

Waqas Shuaib, Aizaaz Ali Khan, Ajeet Singh Mehta, Arvind Vijayasarathi, Joseph Hidalgo


Purpose: Vertebral artery injuries (VAIs) can be seen in cervical injuries. This investigation was conducted to assess the impact of head and neck computed tomography (CT) angiography (CTA) on planning treatment of vertebral artery injuries, if these tests were ordered appropriately, and to estimate cost and associated exposure to radiation and contrast material.

Methods: This retrospective review included all patients who underwent CT of the cervical spine and CTA of the head and neck from March 2011 to October 2012 at a single institution. Patients were divided into two groups, those with and those without cervical spine fracture appreciated on CT of the cervical spine. The frequency of vascular injury on CTA in those with a cervical fracture was assessed. The frequency of vascular injury treatment and modifications owed to a positive CTA of head and neck were also assessed. A study was considered appropriate if it was ordered in accordance with the modified Denver Screening criteria. Effective radiation dose (mSv) was calculated by multiplying dose length product (DLP) from the scanner with the standard conversion coefficient (k) (k = 0.0021 mSv/mGy x cm).

Results: In the 387 CTAs of head and neck, a cervical injury was recorded in 128 patients. Twenty CTA scans were correctly ordered for non-spinal indications, and 19 were ordered off protocol. CTA was found positive in 1 patient for whom the imaging was off protocol and 1 for whom the clinical indication was non-cervical. There were 19 positive CTA cases of head and neck, none of which underwent surgical intervention. CTA was positive in 13 of 48 patients who had suffered a C2 fracture; this accounted for 13 of the 19 positive CTA studies (p < 0.01). Estimated fee for CTA was $3783, and radiation exposure was 4 mSv with a standard deviation (±1.3).

Conclusion: CTA of head and neck ordered off an institutional imaging protocol has a low probability of being positive. Adherence to protocols for CTA of head and neck can reduce costs and decrease unnecessary exposure to radiation and contrast medium.


Cite this article as:
Shuaib W, Khan AA, Mehta AS, Vijayasarathi A, Hidalgo J. Utility of CT angiography in cervical spine trauma: analysis of radiation and cost. Int J Cancer Ther Oncol 2014; 2(4):02043. DOI: 10.14319/ijcto.0204.3


CTA; Cerebrovascular Injury; Cervical Trauma

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14319/ijcto.0204.3

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