Incidence and diagnosis of C7-T1 fractures and subluxations in multiple-trauma patients: Evaluation of the advanced trauma life support guidelines

Victor L. Gisbert, Jererny J. Hollerman, Arthur L. Ney, Gaylan L. Rockswold, Ernest Ruiz, Donald M. Jacobs, Melvin P. Bubrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

A 5-year retrospective review was done to evaluate C-7 and C7-T1 cervical spine injuries and to assess the advanced trauma life support guidelines for cervical spine evaluation. Eighteen fractures of C-7 and four fracture-dislocations at C7-T1 were identified. Nineteen of the patients had neck pain, tenderness, or neurologic findings on initial examination. Three patients were awake and asymptomatic. The initial diagnosis could be made from lateral cervical spine x-ray film in only three of the 22 patients. In the remaining patients, the diagnosis was made by either swimmer's view (7 of 8 positive), oblique views (1 of 1 positive), flexion-extension views (2 of 3 positive), or computed tomography (CT) scan (7 of 7 positive). In two patients, the diagnosis-was not made in the first 24 hours. Follow-up x-ray films were positive in 3 of 22 lateral cervical spine films, 10 of 14 swimmer's views, 2 of 3 oblique views, 2 of 3 flexion-extension views, and 14 of 20 CT scans. The data support the advanced trauma life support recommendation for liberal use of cervical spine radiologic screening. We recommend that the screening examination consist of a lateral cervical spine film, and a swimmer's view, if necessary, to visualize C-7 and the C7-T1 interspace. We further recommend that strong consideration be given to the use of a five-view trauma series. CT scan should be viewed as complementary to conventional film techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-709
Number of pages8
JournalSurgery
Volume106
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1989

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