Every year in the United States about 5,000 people sustain a cervical spinal cord injury. Vastly greater numbers present to hospitals after motor vehicle crashes and falls with potential cervical spine injuries (CSI) for evaluation. This group of patients requires very careful management while undergoing evaluation for potential CSI to minimize the potential for spinal cord injury. It is, therefore, incumbent on everyone caring for these patients to distinguish between fact and fiction in regard to CSI management. This article addresses the following areas of controversy: CSI is a rare injury; patients with cranial and facial injuries are at increased risk for CSI; everyone with a significant mechanism of Injury needs radiological clearance of their cervical spine; a normal cross-table lateral view radiograph excludes significant CSI; oral intubation of patients with CSI is not safe; a semi-rigid collar prevents movement of the cervical spine; and the evaluation of the cervical spine needs to begin in the resuscitation room in every patient.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine