Publication/Presentation Date

11-1-2003

Abstract

BACKGROUND: It is currently recommended that helmet and shoulder pads remain in place during the initial clinical and radiographic evaluation of the helmeted athlete with a potential cervical spine injury. The objective of this prospectively designed, single-subject study was to determine whether MRI may play a role in the initial evaluation and management of the helmeted football player with a cervical spine injury.

METHODS: One male athlete was fitted using equipment (football helmet [Riddell], shoulder pads [Douglas]) worn during the collegiate season at Lehigh University. Standard MRI using a routine clinical 0.7 T high field open MRI scanner (GE Signa System, Milwaukee, WI) was employed for the evaluation using standard clinical parameters (sagittal T1, fast spin echo [FSE] T2, STIR, and axial FSE T2 series). A single board-certified, fellowship-trained neuroradiologist reviewed all series. Studies were evaluated for image clarity and diagnostic capability in this clinical setting.

RESULTS: All standard MRI series were of extremely limited quality, even using sequences and slice selection designed to minimize artifact associated with metals (FSE T2-weighted series). When all MRI series were reviewed as a whole, sufficient evidence was not available to allow clinical decision making.

CONCLUSIONS: The amount and type of metal within the standard football helmet and shoulder pads result in sufficient field inhomogeneity and SKEW artifact to preclude adequate evaluation of the cervical structures, rendering MRI evaluation in this setting not clinically useful. This study shows that current MRI techniques play no role in the clearance of the cervical spine (with currently available brands of helmet and shoulder pads in place) without prior equipment removal or manipulation.

Volume

13

Issue

6

First Page

353

Last Page

357

ISSN

1050-642X

Disciplines

Medicine and Health Sciences

PubMedID

14627866

Department(s)

Department of Medicine

Document Type

Article

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