Purpose: To demonstrate the importance of magnetic resonance (MR) and computed tomography (CT) in the evaluation of cervical traumas in patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis.
Material and methods: Eleven patients with advanced ankylosing spondylitis were admitted to neurosurgical treatment after trauma to the neck region. All had neurological symptoms and were evaluated with plain X-ray, CT, and MR.
Results: CT with reformation sagittal and coronal plane was superior to plain X-ray films in demonstrating fractures and dislocations. MR was considered mandatory when evaluating changes in medulla and epidural hematomas, which were detected in 4 patients. The clinical outcome was poor in 5 patients and good in 6. The poorest outcome was seen in patients with cord contusion and epidural hematoma.
Conclusion: We conclude that plain X-ray is of no greater importance in the acute phase of highest value in follow-up evaluation of the healing process and final position of the fractured vertebrae. Our protocol in the acute phase in traumatized ankylopoetic patients consists of lateral conventional X-ray, CT with reformatted images, and MR, the last-mentioned being important in detecting epidural hematoma that reduces the clinical outcome further if not removed. In our opinion, MR must be part of the radiological protocol following neck traumas in all patients with ankylosing spondylitis.