Are plain radiographs sufficient to exclude cervical spine injuries in low-risk adults?

Benton R. Hunter, Samuel M. Keim, Rawle A. Seupaul, Gene Hern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background The routine use of clinical decision rules and three-view plain radiography to clear the cervical spine in blunt trauma patients has been recently called into question. Clinical Question In low-risk adult blunt trauma patients, can plain radiographs adequately exclude cervical spine injury when clinical prediction rules cannot? Evidence Review Four observational studies investigating the performance of plain radiographs in detecting cervical spine injury in low-risk adult blunt trauma patients were reviewed. Conclusion The consistently poor performance of plain radiographs to rule out cervical spine injury in adult blunt trauma victims is concerning. Large, rigorously performed prospective trials focusing on low- or low/moderate-risk patients will be needed to truly define the utility of plain radiographs of the cervical spine in blunt trauma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-263
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • cervical spine injury
  • cost-effectiveness
  • medical imaging
  • radiographs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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