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JAMA. 2001 Oct 17;286(15):1841-8.

The Canadian C-spine rule for radiography in alert and stable trauma patients.

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  • 1Clinical Epidemiology Unit, F6, Ottawa Health Research Institute, 1053 Carling Ave, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Y 4E9. istiell@ohri.ca

Abstract

CONTEXT:

High levels of variation and inefficiency exist in current clinical practice regarding use of cervical spine (C-spine) radiography in alert and stable trauma patients.

OBJECTIVE:

To derive a clinical decision rule that is highly sensitive for detecting acute C-spine injury and will allow emergency department (ED) physicians to be more selective in use of radiography in alert and stable trauma patients.

DESIGN:

Prospective cohort study conducted from October 1996 to April 1999, in which physicians evaluated patients for 20 standardized clinical findings prior to radiography. In some cases, a second physician performed independent interobserver assessments.

SETTING:

Ten EDs in large Canadian community and university hospitals.

PATIENTS:

Convenience sample of 8924 adults (mean age, 37 years) who presented to the ED with blunt trauma to the head/neck, stable vital signs, and a Glasgow Coma Scale score of 15.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

Clinically important C-spine injury, evaluated by plain radiography, computed tomography, and a structured follow-up telephone interview. The clinical decision rule was derived using the kappa coefficient, logistic regression analysis, and chi(2) recursive partitioning techniques.

RESULTS:

Among the study sample, 151 (1.7%) had important C-spine injury. The resultant model and final Canadian C-Spine Rule comprises 3 main questions: (1) is there any high-risk factor present that mandates radiography (ie, age >/=65 years, dangerous mechanism, or paresthesias in extremities)? (2) is there any low-risk factor present that allows safe assessment of range of motion (ie, simple rear-end motor vehicle collision, sitting position in ED, ambulatory at any time since injury, delayed onset of neck pain, or absence of midline C-spine tenderness)? and (3) is the patient able to actively rotate neck 45 degrees to the left and right? By cross-validation, this rule had 100% sensitivity (95% confidence interval [CI], 98%-100%) and 42.5% specificity (95% CI, 40%-44%) for identifying 151 clinically important C-spine injuries. The potential radiography ordering rate would be 58.2%.

CONCLUSION:

We have derived the Canadian C-Spine Rule, a highly sensitive decision rule for use of C-spine radiography in alert and stable trauma patients. If prospectively validated in other cohorts, this rule has the potential to significantly reduce practice variation and inefficiency in ED use of C-spine radiography.

Comment in

PMID:
11597285
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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