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What if My Cervical MRI is Negative? I Know that I am in Pain!!

There are many diagnostic facilities and physicians offering a study known as a digital motion x-ray (DMX). The science behind a DMX study is hardly new or unique, in fact videofluoroscopy has been around for many years. However, it was not until recently that physicians began utilizing this science to illustrate acceleration deceleration injuries (commonly referred to as whiplash) in their patients. It has become commonplace for physicians who treat car accident victims to hear complaints of severe neck pain even in the absence of cervical pathology found in an MRI study of the cervical spine.

Let’s take a look at the advantages of a DMX study over a cervical MRI. Keep in mind that I am a proponent of obtaining both:

  1. Individuals are generally injured while in motion. Further a cervical injury often manifests while the patient moves their neck through the normal range of motion. A normal cervical x-ray or MRI is a static image (meaning the patient is still). A DMX study allows the patient to move their neck back and forth from flexion to extension position. This greatly enhances the ability of the study to illustrate the pathology. Many other diagnostic studies simply miss the pathology that can be displayed in a motion study.
  2. Standard x-rays and MRI studies generally do not detect soft tissue, muscoligamentous injuries such as abnormal articulation of vertebral bodies, vertebral offsets, and general ligament damage of the neck.
  3. DMX radiographs can be paused at any moment to allow for measurements that are common in radiology at basically any position in the range of motion in the neck.

I have found DMX studies to be extremely useful in the presentation of a cervical injury case. In the event that your client/patient displays significant neck symptomatology but an absence of pathology in an MRI study, DMX can be most useful to illustrate the injury your client/patient has sustained.

– Matthew Dolman

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