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Journal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 257-262

Diagnostic Accuracy and Prognostic Significance of Point-Of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) for Traumatic Cervical Spine in Emergency care setting: A Comparison of clinical outcomes between POCUS and Computed Tomography on a Cohort of 284 Cases and Review of Literature

Department of Radiology, St. John's Hospital, Idukki, Kerala, India

Correspondence Address:
Reddy Ravikanth
Department of Radiology, St. John's Hospital, Kattappana, Idukki - 685 515, Kerala
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcvjs.jcvjs_3_21

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Background: The cervical spine is injured in approximately 3% of major trauma patients, and 10% of patients with serious head injury. Therefore, clearance of the cervical spine in multitrauma patients is a critically important task. This is particularly important, considering that there is a positive correlation between a Glasgow Coma Scale of <14 and cervical spine injury. Radiography is not sensitive enough to rule out cervical spine injury, especially as radiography done in the trauma setting is usually technically unsatisfactory. Objective: The current study aims to assess the diagnostic accuracy and prognostic significance of using bedside point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) in traumatic cervical spine injuries compared to computed tomography (CT) as the reference standard. Materials and Methods: This comparative study enrolled 284 patients with severe multiple trauma at a tertiary care center between July 2017 and March 2020. The inclusion criteria included an indication of cervical spine CT scan, satisfaction of patients with participation in the study, and the lack of history of injury and severe traumatic events. The exclusion criteria were the history of a previous cervical spinal trauma, spondylosis, scoliosis, spinal tuberculosis, degenerative vertebral changes, and patients who refused to give consent to participate in research or CT scanning. The data were analyzed by SPSS software, and sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value (PPV)/negative predictive value (NPV) were determined based on CT findings. Results: The best window for the cervical spine was through the anterior triangle using the linear array probe (6–13 MHz). POCUS had a sensitivity of 78.5%, specificity of 98.4%, PPV of 93.2%, NPV of 92.8%, and accuracy of 93.2% in detecting all types of spinal injuries in comparison with CT scan as the standard modality. POCUS had a sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 92.3%, PPV of 62.3%, NPV of 100%, and accuracy of 91.7% in cases with the movement of injured particles. POCUS had a sensitivity of 32.2%, specificity of 100%, PPV of 100%, NPV of 91.4%, and accuracy of 90.8% in detecting the fracture of transverse process. POCUS had a sensitivity of 36.1%, specificity of 100%, PPV of 100%, NPV of 98.1%, and accuracy of 98.4% in ≤14-year age multitrauma patients. In comparison, the current study achieved a sensitivity of 79.4%, specificity of 95.7%, PPV of 92.1%, NPV of 86.3%, and accuracy of 88.6% in >14-year age multitrauma patients. Conclusion: POCUS for cervical spine is feasible using portable ultrasound machine and by neurosurgeons/radiologists/emergency physicians with basic training. It holds great potential in resource-starved settings and in unstable patients for ruling out unstable cervical spine injuries and injuries associated with the movement of fractured or dislocated particles. POCUS examination of the cervical spine was possible in the emergency setting and even in unstable patients and could be done without moving the neck. Future studies, ideally conducted as randomized control trials, are required to establish training and education standards, and to assess the feasibility and safety of POCUS as an alternative to radiography.

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