Selective cervical spine radiography in blunt trauma: methodology of the National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS)

Ann Emerg Med. 1998 Oct;32(4):461-9. doi: 10.1016/s0196-0644(98)70176-3.


Fear of failure to identify cervical spine injury has led to extremely liberal use of radiography in patients with blunt trauma and remotely possible neck injury. A number of previous retrospective and small prospective studies have tried to address the question of whether any clinical criteria can identify patients, from among this group, at sufficiently low risk that cervical spine radiography is unnecessary. The National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS) is a very large, federally supported, multicenter, prospective study designed to define the sensitivity, for detecting significant cervical spine injury, of criteria previously shown to have high negative predictive value. Done at 23 different emergency departments across the United States and projected to enroll more than 20 times as many patients with cervical spine injury than any previous study, NEXUS should be able to answer definitively questions about the validity and reliability of clinical criteria used as a preliminary screen for cervical spine injury.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiography
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sample Size
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • United States
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnostic imaging*