Selected Topics: Emergency Radiology| Volume 49, ISSUE 3, P294-300, September 2015

Falls and Implementation of NEXUS in the Elderly (The FINE Study)



      The incidence of cervical spine injuries (CSI) in people over 65 years of age from low-energy mechanisms is far greater than in younger populations. Algorithms and decision rules exist for selection of trauma patients requiring cervical spine imaging.


      To determine the validity of the NEXUS criteria in the elderly population with low-mechanism injuries.


      We prospectively conducted computed tomography (CT) imaging in patients > 65 years of age presenting with fall from standing height or less to rule out predefined clinically significant CSI. Eligible patients were prospectively categorized into NEXUS positive or negative.


      There were 169 patients included in the final analyses. One hundred twenty (71%) patients in the cohort were classified as “NEXUS positive.” Eleven patients (6.5% of the cohort) had CSI detected on CT imaging of the cervical spine. Nine patients had clinically significant CSI. The NEXUS decision instrument demonstrated 88.9% sensitivity (50.7–99.4%) and 98% negative predictive value (NPV) (87.8–99.9%) in detecting clinically significant CSI. The NEXUS decision instrument demonstrated 81.8% sensitivity (47.8–96.8%) and 95.9% NPV (84.9–99.3%) in detecting any CSI.


      In our study, the NEXUS decision instrument was not a valid tool to rule out imaging for patients > 65 years of age presenting after a fall from standing height or less. We advocate the liberal use of CT imaging of the cervical spine in this cohort of patients to rule out cervical spine injury.


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