Skaggs DL. Spine. 2012. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182368277

April 20, 2012
1 min read

Intra-articular facet fractures more easily detected with CT scans than MRI


Skaggs DL. Spine. 2012. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182368277

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In a cohort of elite athletes presenting with localized spine pain and back extension, researchers found CT imaging superior to MRI in the detection of intra-articular sacral facet fractures.

In a retrospective review, researchers examined charts of three elite, nationally competitive athletes who presented with severe back pain and were diagnosed with sacral facet fractures.

The researchers noted the fractures had gone undetected on MRI but were diagnosed with CT scans, according to the study abstract, which noted that all three patients reported localized pain with back extension.

Numerous tests and invasive procedures had been unable to resolve symptoms prior to the fracture diagnosis, but improvement was seen in all three patients after minimally invasive removal of the intra-articular fragments. Two patients whose diagnosis came after a shorter history of pain were able to return to their sport. The third patient experienced “transient though not long-lasting pain relief” after going undiagnosed for 2 years.

The authors concluded early diagnosis and treatment increases the chance of pain relief and return to sport for patients with sacral facet fractures.