Assessment for additional spinal trauma in patients with cervical spine injury

Sharma, Om P.; Oswanski, Michael F.; Yazdi, Joseph S.; Jindal, Steve; Taylor, Michael
January 2007
American Surgeon;Jan2007, Vol. 73 Issue 1, p70
Academic Journal
journal article
An institutional review board-approved 8-year retrospective trauma registry analysis of cervical spine injuries (CSIs) was done in a Level 1 trauma center. This analysis includes 129 CSI patients (1.3% of trauma admissions). Cervical spine radiographs diagnosed injuries in 71 per cent of CSI patients. Cervical spine radiographs were false negative in 29 per cent of patients, who were found to have CSI on spine CT. Spine CT had 98 per cent sensitivity and detected 45 per cent additional injuries in cervical spine radiograph-positive patients. Spine CT scans were false negative in two patients with soft tissue injury. Cervical spine fractures were isolated in 45 per cent (n = 58) and multilevel in 55 per cent (n = 71) with contiguous fractures in 43 per cent (n = 55) of patients. Injuries involved two adjoining vertebrae in 38 patients and three or more adjoining vertebrae in 7 patients. C1-2 and C5-6 comprised 26 per cent and 20 per cent of all contiguous fractures. The least common was C7-T1, diagnosed in 2 per cent. The most common contiguous fractures were C1-2 in the elderly and C5-6 in children, comprising half of contiguous cervical injuries in the respective age groups. There were 26 (20.2%) noncontiguous injuries: 15 cervical and 11 cervicothoracolumbar. Multiple regions of the vertebral column were involved in 7.8 per cent of CSI patients. Spine CT is the preferred modality to assess CSI. Injuries were isolated in 45 per cent and were multilevel in the remaining CSI patients. Contiguous and noncontiguous injuries involving the cervical and thoracolumbar spine are common. Assessment of the entire spinal column should be done in patients with CSI.


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