Effect of spineboard and headblocks on the image quality of head CT scans

Baukje Hemmes*, Cecile R. L. P. N. Jeukens, Aliaa Al-Haidari, Paul A. M. Hofman, Ed van der Linden, Peter R. G. Brink, Martijn Poeze - van Bokhoven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)


Trauma patients at risk for, or suspected of, spinal injury are frequently transported to hospital using full spinal immobilisation. At the emergency department, immobilisation is often maintained until radiological work-up is completed. In this study, we examined how these devices for spinal stabilization influence visual image quality. Image quality was judged for both patient CT scans and phantom CT scans. CT scans of 217 patients were assessed retrospectively by two radiologists for visual scoring of image quality, scoring both quantity and impact of artifacts caused by the immobilization devices. For the phantom CT scans, eight set-ups were made, using a vacuum mattress without headblocks and a rigid and a soft-layered spineboard without headblocks, with standard soft-foam headblocks, or with new design headblocks. Overall, artifacts were found in 67 % of CT scans of patients on immobilization devices, which hampered diagnosis in 10 % of the cases. In the phantom CT scans, artifacts were present in all set-ups with one or more devices present and were seen in 20 % of all scan slices. The presence of headblocks resulted in more artifacts in both the patient CT scans and the phantom CT scans. Considerable effort should therefore be made to adjust the design of the immobilization devices and to remove the headblocks before CT scans are made.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-268
JournalEmergency Radiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • CT scan
  • Image quality
  • Spineboard
  • Vacuum mattress
  • Headblocks

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