Magnetic resonance imaging of vertebral compression fractures.

T. T. Shih, Y. H. Tsuang, K. M. Huang, P. Q. Chen, C. T. Su

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9 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to analyze the signal intensity and vascularity of compression fractures of vertebrae in 74 patients. The possibility of nonunion was assessed according to the specific image findings and clinical presentation. All patients had chronic back pain for more than 3 months and compression fractures of the vertebrae initially demonstrated by plain radiography. Pre-enhanced T1 and T2*-weighted images (*multiplaner gradient recall sequence) and postenhanced MRI were obtained. Images were divided into three categories according to the signal intensity of the fractured vertebrae such as hyperintensity (n = 35), hypointensity (n = 24) on T1-weighted image and necrotic type compression fractures of the vertebrae (n = 15). Of the 15 necrotic-type cases, 13 disclosed "fluid"-containing space at the collapsed vertebrae and two showed "air"-containing space at the vertebral body. We believe that these findings are pathognomonic signs of nonunion of the collapsed vertebrae. Surgical specimens were obtained from the four patients whose vertebrae showed necrosis and granulation tissue. After posterior spinal instrumentation, the collapsed vertebral body regained the height and presence of the open end-plate of the vertebra on postoperative lateral radiography. The superior capabilities of MRI offers useful criteria that make the diagnosis of nonunion in compression fractures of the spine possible. Thus, a space with "fluid" or "air" collection at the anterior aspect of a collapsed vertebra as well as strong enhancement with Gd-DTPA at the posterior aspect of the collapsed vertebra may be considered to be pathognomonic signs of nonunion of the fractured vertebra.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-319
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association = Taiwan yi zhi
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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