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Ann Emerg Med. 2004 Apr;43(4):507-14.

Retrospective application of the NEXUS low-risk criteria for cervical spine radiography in Canadian emergency departments.

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1
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVE:

We evaluate the accuracy, reliability, and potential impact of the National Emergency X-Radiography Utilization Study (NEXUS) low-risk criteria for cervical spine radiography, when applied in Canadian emergency departments (EDs).

METHODS:

The Canadian C-Spine Rule derivation study was a prospective cohort study conducted in 10 Canadian EDs that recruited alert and stable adult trauma patients. Physicians completed a 20-item data form for each patient and performed interobserver assessments when feasible. The prospective assessments included the 5 individual NEXUS criteria but not an explicit interpretation of the overall need for radiography according to the criteria. Patients underwent plain radiography, flexion-extension views, and computed tomography at the discretion of the treating physician. Patients who did not have radiography were followed up with a structured outcome assessment by telephone to determine clinically important cervical spine injury, a previously validated outcome measurement. Analyses included sensitivity and specificity with 95% confidence interval (CI), kappa coefficient, and potential radiography rates.

RESULTS:

Among 8,924 patients, 151 (1.7%) patients had an important cervical spine injury. The combined NEXUS criteria identified important cervical spine injury with a sensitivity of 92.7% (95% CI 87% to 96%) and a specificity of 37.8% (95% CI 37% to 39%). Application of the NEXUS criteria would have potentially reduced cervical spine radiography rates by 6.1% from the actual rate of 68.9% to 62.8%. Of 11 patients with important injuries not identified, 2 were treated with internal fixation and 3 with a halo.

CONCLUSION:

This retrospective validation found the NEXUS low-risk criteria to be less sensitive than previously reported. The NEXUS low-risk criteria should be further explicitly and prospectively evaluated for accuracy and reliability before widespread clinical use outside of the United States.

PMID:
15039695
DOI:
10.1016/S019606440301117X
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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