Imaging plays a critical role in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). Conventional imaging tools have provided anatomical information leading to more targeted and overall better management of these individuals no doubt, but more recent development of advanced imaging techniques are capable of providing microstructural and metabolic information as well. Conventional radiography and computed tomography (CT) give macro-structural information about bony structures mainly, critical for the vertebral column. Comparison of different imaging modalities helps understand appropriate use, risks and benefits of each, financial aspects and radiation issues involved, all leading to avoidance of unnecessary delay in more advanced care or treatment.
Prognosis of SCI is discussed in brief. Moreover, the psychometrics of MRI related to sensitivity, specificity, and interrater reliability are explored. More modern techniques capable of providing microstructural information built mostly upon these basic anatomic imaging tools are now available in many places and in a short subsection we discuss DTI and its role in identifying SCIs. Many more modern techniques, such as spectroscopy and perfusion MRI, are used in the research domain and are not currently being used in clinical practice, therefore, are not evaluated here. The following chapter will review contemporary clinical roles of non-invasive imaging pertaining to spinal cord injury, as well as, their role, prognostic and diagnostic.