Static and dynamic cervical MRI: two useful exams in cervical myelopathy

Lorenzo Nigro, Pasquale Donnarumma, Roberto Tarantino, Marika Rullo, Antonio Santoro, Roberto Delfini


Background: Cervical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the gold standard exam in the assessment of patients affected by cervical myelopathy and is very useful in planning the operation. Herein we present a series of patients affected by long tract symptoms who underwent dynamic MRI in addition to the static exam.
Methods: In the period between March 2010 and March 2012, three-hundred-ten patients referred to our department since affected by neck/arm pain or symptoms related to cervical myelopathy. Thirty-eight patients complained “long-tract symptoms” related to cervical myelopathy. This series of patients was enrolled in the study. All patients underwent clinical and neurological exam. In all the cases, a static and dynamic cervical MRI was executed using a 3.0-T superconducting MR unit (Intera, Philips, Eindhoven, Netherlands). The dynamic exam was performed with as much neck flexion and extension the patient could achieve alone. On T2-weigthed MRI each level was assessed independently by two neuroradiologists and Muhle scale was applied.
Results: According to Muhle’s classification of spinal cord compressions, static MRI demonstrated 156 findings: 96 (61.54%) anterior and 60 (38.46%) posterior. Dynamic MRI showed 186 spinal cord compressions: 81 (43.5%) anterior and 105 (56.5%) posterior. The anterior compressions were: grade 1 in 23 cases (28.4%), grade 2 in 52 cases (64.2%), grade 3 in 6 cases (7.4%). The posterior compressions were: 32 (30.48%) of grade 1, 60 (57.14%) of grade 2, 13 (12.38%) of grade 3.
Conclusions: The dynamic MRI demonstrated a major number of findings and spinal cord compressions compared to the static exam. Finally, we consider the dynamic exam able to provide useful information in these patients, but we suggest a careful evaluation of the findings in the extension exam since they are probably over-expressed.