Cross-sectional area of the posterior extensor muscles of the cervical spine in whiplash injury patients versus healthy volunteers - 10year follow-up MR study
Injury,

Matsumoto M et al. – There was no significant difference in the change in cross–sectional areas (CSA) between whiplash patients and healthy volunteers after a 10–year follow–up period. In both groups, the cross–sectional area slightly increased at follow–up. In addition, there was no association between the change in CSA and clinical symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain. These results suggest that whiplash injury is not associated with symptomatic atrophy of the posterior cervical muscles over the long term.

Methods
  • Twenty-three patients who had suffered from whiplash injury in 1994–1996 and had undergone MRI using a 1.5-T superconductive imager participated in this follow-up study (13 males, 10 females, mean age 51.8years, mean follow-up 11.5years).
  • In addition, 60 healthy volunteers who had undergone MRI in the same period were included as controls (36 males, 24 females, mean age 47.8years, mean follow-up 11.1years).
  • All participants underwent follow-up MRI.
  • The cross-sectional areas of the deep posterior muscles (CSA) including the multifidus, semispinalis cervicis, semispinalis capitis, and splenius capitis were digitally measured at C3-4, C4-5, and C5-6 using NIH image.
  • The long-term changes in the CSA were compared between the two groups.
  • In addition, correlations between the CSA and cervical spine-related symptoms were evaluated.

Results
  • The mean total CSA per patient (the sum of the area from C3-4 to C5-6) was 4811.6±878.4mm2 in the whiplash patients and 4494.9±1032.7mm2 in the controls at the initial investigation (p=0.20), and 5173.4±946.1mm2 and 4713.0±1065.3mm2 at the follow-up (p=0.07).
  • The mean change in CSA over time was 361.8±804.9mm2 in the whiplash patients and 218.1±520.7mm2 in the controls (p=0.34).
  • Ten whiplash patients (43.5%) had neck pain and 11 (47.8%) had shoulder stiffness.
  • However, there was no difference in the change in CSA over time between the symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.

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