Cervical Spine Computed Tomography Imaging Artifact Affecting Clinical Decision-Making in the Traumatized Patient

Aaron C Coats 1, Matthew S Nies*, 2, David Rispler 3
1 American Health Network, Indy Bone and Spine, Indianapolis, IN, USA
2 Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, Grand Rapids, MI, USA
3 River Valley Orthopedics, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

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© Coats et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, Grand Rapids, MI, USA; Tel: +616 366 8885; E-mail:


CT scanning is an important tool in the evaluation of trauma patients. We review a case involving a trauma patient in which a cervical spine computed tomography (CT) artifact affected decision-making by physicians. The CT artifact mimicked bilateral dislocated facets (51-B1.1). On the basis of CT findings, the patient was transferred to a different hospital for evaluation. Discrepancy between the primary CT scan and patient physical exam prompted secondary CT scans and X-ray evaluation; neither of these studies showed osseous abnormalities. This case reinforces the necessity for physicians to formulate their diagnosis based upon multiple areas of information including physical examination, plain x-ray and subsequent advanced imaging, rather than relying solely on advanced imaging.

Keywords: Artifact, cervical spine, computed tomography, discrepancy, osseous abnormality, physical examination..