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Radiology. 1996 Dec;201(3):649-55.

Forecasting motor recovery after cervical spinal cord injury: value of MR imaging.

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Department of Radiology, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.



To determine whether magnetic resonance (MR) imaging quantification of cervical spinal cord damage improves the prediction of motor recovery after spinal cord injury.


The extent of cervical spinal cord injury was measured on MR images obtained in 104 patients (aged 17-70 years) within 72 hours of spinal cord injury. The effects of hemorrhage and edema length on motor outcome were examined for at least 12 months.


Patients with spinal cord hemorrhage had significantly lower upper and lower extremity motor scores at the time of injury and at 12 months than did patients without hemorrhage (P < .001). There was little recovery of lower extremity function even in patients without hemorrhage. Upper extremity motor function improved significantly in all patients (P < .001); patients without hemorrhage showed the largest improvements. The motor recovery rates for patients without hemorrhage were 0.74 (upper extremities; range, 0-1) and 0.55 (lower extremities; range, 0-1); those for patients with hemorrhage were 0.31 (range, 0-1) and 0.091 (range, 0-1). Stepwise multiple regression analyses indicated that MR information on hemorrhage and the length of edema increases the ability to predict clinical outcome by 16%-33% over that with initial clinical scores alone.


An initial MR imaging evaluation of the spinal cord after spinal cord injury provides supplemental prognostic information on the recovery of motor function in the upper and lower extremities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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