The incidence of injury to the cervical spine in patients with craniocerebral injury

Keith F. O’Malley, Steven E. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Estimates of the incidence of injury to the cervical spine among patients suffering blunt trauma to the head vary widely, and have been reported to be as high as 20%. Since strict observation of cervical spine precautions may delay attempts to gain control of the airway in a patient with an intracranial injury, the risk involved needs more exact definition. In an attempt to quantify this risk, the records of 1,272 consecutive patients with blunt injuries admitted to a Level I regional trauma center were reviewed. Patients with serious craniocerebral injury were at no greater risk for injury to the cervical spine than patients without trauma to the head (1.8% vs. 3.5%, p = NS by Chi-square analysis). Although observance of cervical spine precautions is usually paramount, there may be times when this concern is superceded by the need to gain definitive airway control in a patient with injury to the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1476-1478
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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