Acute traumatic spinal epidural hematoma: imaging and neurologic outcome

D. Lee Bennett, Michael J. George, Kenjirou Ohashi, Georges Y. El-Khoury, Joshua J. Lucas and Matthew C. Peterson

ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to present MRI characteristics of traumatic spinal epidural hematomas (TSEHs) and to evaluate their effect on neurologic outcome. A retrospective analysis was performed of all 74 cases in which patients underwent emergent spinal MRI in the setting of acute trauma at our institution’s Emergency Department between June 2002 and January 2003. MRI studies were evaluated for the presence of a TSEH. CT studies were evaluated for the presence of osseous trauma. Patient data were collected from medical records on the initial neurologic status at admission and at 6 months after injury. Twenty-seven of 74 patients had a spinal fracture and a TSEH. Twenty-five of 74 patients had a spinal fracture with no TSEH. Twenty-two of 74 patients had normal imaging studies. Six-month follow-up of neurologic status demonstrated no statistically significant difference in neurologic outcome between patients with spinal fractures and TSEH and those with spinal fractures but no TSEH. If a spinal fracture and abnormal neurologic exam are present, the neurologic outcome at 6 months is not worsened by the presence of a TSEH.