TheCanadianC-Spine(cervical-spine)Rule(CCR)andtheNationalEmergencyX-Radi- ography Utilization Study (NEXUS) Low-Risk Criteria (NLC) are decision rules to guide the use of cervical-spine radiography in patients with trauma. It is unclear how the two decision rules compare in terms of clinical performance.
We conducted a prospective cohort study in nine Canadian emergency departments comparing the CCR and NLC as applied to alert patients with trauma who were in stable condition. The CCR and NLC were interpreted by 394 physicians for patients before ra- diography.
Among the 8283 patients, 169 (2.0 percent) had clinically important cervical-spine in- juries. In 845 (10.2 percent) of the patients, physicians did not evaluate range of motion as required by the CCR algorithm. In analyses that excluded these indeterminate cases, the CCR was more sensitive than the NLC (99.4 percent vs. 90.7 percent, P<0.001) and more specific (45.1 percent vs. 36.8 percent, P<0.001) for injury, and its use would have resulted in lower radiography rates (55.9 percent vs. 66.6 percent, P<0.001). In second- ary analyses that included all patients, the sensitivity and specificity of CCR, assuming that the indeterminate cases were all positive, were 99.4 percent and 40.4 percent, re- spectively (P
For alert patients with trauma who are in stable condition, the CCR is superior to the NLC with respect to sensitivity and specificity for cervical-spine injury, and its use would result in reduced rates of radiography.