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1.  "Superficially speaking"--a dermatology quiz. 
This presentation is a dermatology case in quiz form with a 4-point differential. The patient, a 44-year-old man admitted to Psychiatry Service for management of chronic psychosis, was noted to have multiple, circular, well-circumscribed violaceous cutaneous plaques resembling various dermatological conditions. This case underscores the importance of careful historical, clinical, and laboratory investigation to establish the correct diagnosis when evaluating skin lesions. Judicious laboratory testing may be helpful in excluding diseases such as syphilis and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which may mimic other dermatological conditions. Test your clinical acumen by deciding on a diagnosis. The correct answer is revealed in the discussion.
PMCID: PMC2627106  PMID: 1834857
2.  Snapshot quiz – recurrent right iliac fossa pain in the patient with a previous history of appendicitis 
Clinical Case Reports  2015;3(6):512.
Key Clinical Message
A low threshold for computed tomography (CT) scanning in patients with previous appendicectomy and right iliac fossa pain helps facilitate timely diagnosis and exclusion of other differential diagnoses. Here, we present a rare cause which has significant medicolegal ramifications and is accurately diagnosed with CT.
PMCID: PMC4498876  PMID: 26185662
Faecolith; incomplete appendicectomy; right iliac fossa; stump appendicitis
3.  Number and cost of claims linked to minor cervical trauma in Europe: results from the comparative study by CEA, AREDOC and CEREDOC 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(10):1350-1357.
Comparative epidemiological study of minor cervical spine trauma (frequently referred to as whiplash injury) based on data from the Comité Européen des Assurances (CEA) gathered in ten European countries. To determine the incidence and expenditure (e.g., for assessment, treatment or claims) for minor cervical spine injury in the participating countries. Controversy still surrounds the basis on which symptoms following minor cervical spine trauma may develop. In particular, there is considerable disagreement with regard to a possible contribution of psychosocial factors in determining outcome. The role of compensation is also a source of constant debate. The method followed here is the comparison of the data from different areas of interest (e.g., incidence of minor cervical spine trauma, percentage of minor cervical spine trauma in relationship to the incidence of bodily trauma, costs for assessment or claims) from ten European countries. Considerable differences exist regarding the incidence of minor cervical spine trauma and related costs in participating countries. France and Finland have the lowest and Great Britain the highest incidence of minor cervical spine trauma. The number of claims following minor cervical spine trauma in Switzerland is around the European average; however, Switzerland has the highest expenditure per claim at an average cost of €35,000.00 compared to the European average of €9,000.00. Furthermore, the mandatory accident insurance statistics in Switzerland show very large differences between German-speaking and French- or Italian-speaking parts of the country. In the latter the costs for minor cervical spine trauma expanded more than doubled in the period from 1990 to 2002, whereas in the German-speaking part they rose by a factor of five. All the countries participating in the study have a high standard of medical care. The differences in claims frequency and costs must therefore reflect a social phenomenon based on the different cultural attitudes and medical approach to the problem including diagnosis. In Switzerland, therefore, new ways must be found to try to resolve the problem. The claims treatment model known as “Case Management” represents a new approach in which accelerated social and professional reintegration of the injured party is attempted. The CEA study emphasizes the fundamental role of medicine in that it postulates a clear division between the role of the attending physician and the medical expert. It also draws attention to the need to train medical professionals in the insurance business to the extent that they can interact adequately with insurance professionals. The results of this study indicate that the usefulness of the criterion of so-called typical clinical symptoms, which is at present applied by the courts to determine natural causality and has long been under debate, is inappropriate and should be replaced by objective assessment (e.g. accident and biomechanical analysis). In addition, the legal concept of adequate causality should be interpreted in the same way in both third party liability and social security law, which is currently not the case.
PMCID: PMC2556470  PMID: 18704519
Minor cervical trauma; Cervical spine injury; Whiplash injury
4.  Diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal chest pain: design of a multi-purpose trial 
Acute chest pain is a major health problem all over the western world. Active approaches are directed towards diagnosis and treatment of potentially life threatening conditions, especially acute coronary syndrome/ischemic heart disease. However, according to the literature, chest pain may also be due to a variety of extra-cardiac disorders including dysfunction of muscles and joints of the chest wall or the cervical and thoracic part of the spine. The diagnostic approaches and treatment options for this group of patients are scarce and formal clinical studies addressing the effect of various treatments are lacking.
We present an ongoing trial on the potential usefulness of chiropractic diagnosis and treatment in patients dismissed from an acute chest pain clinic without a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome. The aims are to determine the proportion of patients in whom chest pain may be of musculoskeletal rather than cardiac origin and to investigate the decision process of a chiropractor in diagnosing these patients; further, to examine whether chiropractic treatment can reduce pain and improve physical function when compared to advice directed towards promoting self-management, and, finally, to estimate the cost-effectiveness of these procedures. This study will include 300 patients discharged from a university hospital acute chest pain clinic without a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome or any other obvious cardiac or non-cardiac disease. After completion of the clinic's standard cardiovascular diagnostic procedures, trial patients will be examined according to a standardized protocol including a) a self-report questionnaire; b) a semi-structured interview; c) a general health examination; and d) a specific manual examination of the muscles and joints of the neck, thoracic spine, and thorax in order to determine whether the pain is likely to be of musculoskeletal origin. To describe the patients status with regards to ischemic heart disease, and to compare and indirectly validate the musculoskeletal diagnosis, myocardial perfusion scintigraphy is performed in all patients 2–4 weeks following discharge. Descriptive statistics including parametric and non-parametric methods will be applied in order to compare patients with and without musculoskeletal chest pain in relation to their scintigraphic findings. The decision making process of the chiropractor will be elucidated and reconstructed using the CART method. Out of the 300 patients 120 intended patients with suspected musculoskeletal chest pain will be randomized into one of two groups: a) a course of chiropractic treatment (therapy group) of up to ten treatment sessions focusing on high velocity, low amplitude manipulation of the cervical and thoracic spine, mobilisation, and soft tissue techniques. b) Advice promoting self-management and individual instructions focusing on posture and muscle stretch (advice group). Outcome measures are pain, physical function, overall health, self-perceived treatment effect, and cost-effectiveness.
This study may potentially demonstrate that a chiropractor is able to identify a subset of patients suffering from chest pain predominantly of musculoskeletal origin among patients discharged from an acute chest pain clinic with no apparent cardiac condition. Furthermore knowledge about the benefits of manual treatment of patients with musculoskeletal chest pain will inform clinical decision and policy development in relation to clinical practice.
Trial registration
NCT00462241 and NCT00373828
PMCID: PMC2315652  PMID: 18377636
5.  Diagnosis and treatment of craniocervical dissociation in 48 consecutive survivors  
Study type: Case series
Introduction: Craniocervical dissociation (CCD) is an uncommon and frequently fatal injury with few reports in the literature of survivors. Advances in automobile safety and improved emergency medical services have resulted in increased survival. Timely diagnosis and treatment are imperative for optimal outcome. Regrettably, the presence of multiple life threatening injuries, low clinical suspicion, and lack of familiarity with the upper cervical radiographic anatomy frequently lead to missed or delayed diagnosis.
Objective: This paper represents the largest series of surgically treated CCD survivors. The goal of this study is to determine if any improvements have been made in the timely diagnosis of CCD while performing a complete patient evaluation.
Methods: Following institutional review board approval, a search of the Harborview Medical Center (HMC) trauma registry was conducted for all surgically treated CCD patients between 1996 and 2008. Forty-eight consecutive cases were identified. A retrospective review of the radiological and clinical results with emphasis on timing of diagnosis, modality used for diagnosis (Figures 1 and 2), clinical effect of delayed diagnosis, potential clinical or imaging warning signs, and response to treatment was performed. Thirty-one patients treated from 2003 to 2008 were compared to 17 patients that were treated from 1996 to 2002 and reported previously.1
Initial lateral C-spine radiograph obtained as part of the initial ATLS survey demonstrating an occiput C1 distractive injury.
Sagittal C-spine CT scan obtained as part of the initial ATLS survey demonstrating an occiput C2 distractive injury.
All patients sustained high-energy injuries and were evaluated according to standard Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) protocols. Once CCD was identified or suspected, provisional stabilization was applied and MRI evaluation performed (Figure 3). Definitive surgical management with rigid posterior instrumentation and fusion was performed as soon as physiologically possible (Figures 4 and 5).
Preoperative coronal T2 MRI sequences demonstrating increased signal intensity on the occiput-C1 and C1-2 joints.
Postoperative lateral C-spine x-ray showing rigid posterior instrumented fusion from occiput to C2.
Postoperative sagittal C-spine x-ray showing rigid posterior instrumented fusion from occiput to C2.
Results: Craniocervical dissociation was identified on initial cervical spine imaging in 26 patients (84%). The remaining five patients (16%) were diagnosed by cervical spine MRI. Twenty-three patients (74.2%) were diagnosed within 24 hours of presentation, four (22.6%) were diagnosed between 24 and 48 hours, and one (3.2%) experienced a delay of greater than 48 hours (Table 1). In comparison, four (24%) of the previously treated 17 patients were diagnosed on initial cervical spine imaging. Four patients (24%) were diagnosed within 24 hours of presentation, nine (52%) were diagnosed between 24 and 48 hours, and four (24%) experienced a delay of greater than 48 hours.
There were no cases of craniocervical pseudarthrosis or hardware failure during a mean nine-month follow-up period. Four patients expired during their hospital course. The mean American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor score of 47 improved to 60, and the number of patients with useful motor function (ASIA Grade D or E) increased from eight (26%) preoperatively to 17 (55%) postoperatively.
Conclusions: Improvements have been made in time to diagnosis of CCD in recent years. Increased awareness and the routine use of CT scan as part of the initial ATLS evaluation account for this progress. Expedited diagnosis has decreased preoperative neurological deterioration. However, differences in length of follow-up between the two groups preclude conclusions about its effect on long-term neurological outcome.
PMCID: PMC3623094  PMID: 23637673
6.  Pathology quiz case: Plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm 
Allergy & Rhinology  2014;5(1):e50-e52.
Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN) is a rare hematologic malignancy that possesses a heterogenous clinical and immunophenotypic presentation. The current case report describes an interesting and unique presentation of BPDCN as a primary paranasal sinus tumor without evidence of cutaneous or systemic involvement. As such, the report further contributes to the ongoing debate regarding the true putative origin of the neoplasm, as well as highlights the optimal diagnostic modalities, paramount importance of early diagnosis, and vast heterogeneity exhibited by this fascinating malignancy. The atypical presentation described here indicates the manifestations of BPDCN are more heterogenous than previously documented and thus can not be definitively ruled out in the absence of bone marrow, peripheral blood, or cutaneous involvement. Furthermore, atypical neoplastic presentations mandate flow cytometry and adjunctive immunohistochemistry for the definitive diagnosis of BPDCN, and early diagnosis of such neoplasms are critical for rapid initiation of treatment and improved outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4019746  PMID: 25199145
Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm; endoscopic sinus surgery; ethmoid sinus; flow cytometry; immunohistochemistry; maxillary sinus; sphenoid sinus
7.  Continuing Education Case Study Quiz 
Hospital Pharmacy  2013;48(2):153-155.
The goal of this program is to educate pharmacists about the use of linaclotide for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and constipation.
At the completion of this program, the reader will be able to:Describe the pharmacology and pharmacokinetics of linaclotide.Discuss the risks associated with the use of linaclotide.Discuss the potential benefit of linaclotide for an individual patient.Apply the information on the use of linaclotide to a case study.
PMCID: PMC3905830  PMID: 24550570
constipation; linaclotide; new drugs
8.  Comparative Analysis of Cervical Spine Management in a Subset of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Cases Using Computer Simulation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19177.
No randomized control trial to date has studied the use of cervical spine management strategies in cases of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) at risk for cervical spine instability solely due to damaged ligaments. A computer algorithm is used to decide between four cervical spine management strategies. A model assumption is that the emergency room evaluation shows no spinal deficit and a computerized tomogram of the cervical spine excludes the possibility of fracture of cervical vertebrae. The study's goal is to determine cervical spine management strategies that maximize brain injury functional survival while minimizing quadriplegia.
The severity of TBI is categorized as unstable, high risk and stable based on intracranial hypertension, hypoxemia, hypotension, early ventilator associated pneumonia, admission Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) and age. Complications resulting from cervical spine management are simulated using three decision trees. Each case starts with an amount of primary and secondary brain injury and ends as a functional survivor, severely brain injured, quadriplegic or dead. Cervical spine instability is studied with one-way and two-way sensitivity analyses providing rankings of cervical spine management strategies for probabilities of management complications based on QALYs. Early collar removal received more QALYs than the alternative strategies in most arrangements of these comparisons. A limitation of the model is the absence of testing against an independent data set.
When clinical logic and components of cervical spine management are systematically altered, changes that improve health outcomes are identified. In the absence of controlled clinical studies, the results of this comparative computer assessment show that early collar removal is preferred over a wide range of realistic inputs for this subset of traumatic brain injury. Future research is needed on identifying factors in projecting awakening from coma and the role of delirium in these cases.
PMCID: PMC3081343  PMID: 21544239
9.  Disparities in Rates of Spine Surgery for Degenerative Spine Disease Between HIV Infected and Uninfected Veterans 
Spine  2012;37(7):612-622.
Study Design
Retrospective analysis of nationwide Veterans Health Administration (VA) clinical and administrative data.
Examine the association between HIV infection and the rate of spine surgery for degenerative spine disease.
Summary of Background Data
Combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART) has prolonged survival in patients with HIV/AIDS, increasing the prevalence of chronic conditions such as degenerative spine disease that may require spine surgery.
We studied all HIV infected patients under care in the VA from 1996–2008 (n=40,038) and uninfected comparator patients (n=79,039) matched on age, gender, race, year, and geographic region. The primary outcome was spine surgery for degenerative spine disease defined by ICD-9 procedure and diagnosis codes. We used a multivariate Poisson regression to model spine surgery rates by HIV infection status, adjusting for factors that might affect suitability for surgery (demographics, year, comorbidities, body mass index, cART, and laboratory values).
Two-hundred twenty eight HIV infected and 784 uninfected patients underwent spine surgery for degenerative spine disease during 700,731 patient-years of follow-up (1.44 surgeries per 1,000 patient-years). The most common procedures were spinal decompression (50%), and decompression and fusion (33%); the most common surgical sites were the lumbosacral (50%), and cervical (40%) spine. Adjusted rates of surgery were lower for HIV infected patients (0.86 per 1,000 patient-years of follow-up) than for uninfected patients (1.41 per 1,000 patient-years; IRR 0.61, 95% CI: 0.51, 0.74, P<0.001). Among HIV infected patients, there was a trend towards lower rates of spine surgery in patients with detectable viral loads levels (IRR 0.76, 95% CI: 0.55, 1.05, P=0.099).
In the VA, HIV infected patients experience significantly reduced rates of surgery for degenerative spine disease. Possible explanations include disease prevalence, emphasis on treatment of non-spine HIV-related symptoms, surgical referral patterns, impact of HIV on surgery risk-benefit ratio, patient preferences, and surgeon bias.
PMCID: PMC4507821  PMID: 21697770
disparities; HIV/AIDS; spine; surgery; outcomes
10.  A Clinical Model for the Diagnosis and Management of Patients with Cervical Spine Syndromes 
Background: Disorders of the cervical spine are common and often disabling. The etiology of these disorders is often multifactorial and a comprehensive approach to both diagnosis and management is essential to successful resolution.
Objective: This article provides an overview of a clinical model of the diagnosis and management of patients with disorders related to the cervical spine. This model is based in part on the scientific literature, clinical experience, and communication with other practitioners over the course of the past 20 years.
Discussion: The clinical model presented here involves taking a systematic approach to diagnosis, and management. The diagnostic process is one that asks three essential questions. The answers to these questions then guides the management process, allowing the physician to apply specific methods that address the many factors that can be involved in each individual patient. This clinical model allows the physician to individualize the management strategy while utilizing principles that can be applied to all patients. At times, the management strategy must be multidisciplinary, and cooperation with other physicians and therapists is often necessary for effective patient care.
This model is currently being used by the author in practice, as well as forming the basis upon which further research can be conducted to refine or, if necessary, abandon any of its aspects, as the evidence dictates.
It is the purpose of this paper to present this clinical model and the clinical and scientific evidence, or lack thereof, of its components.
PMCID: PMC2051323  PMID: 17987214
Cervical spine; chiropractic; conservative management; neck pain; headache; rehabilitation
11.  Artificial Cervical Disc Arthroplasty (ACDA): tips and tricks 
Journal of Injury and Violence Research  2012;4(3 Suppl 1): Paper No. 36.
Anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) is currently treatment of choice for managing medical therapy refractory cervical degenerative disc disease. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of ACDF; patients generally experience rapid recoveries, and dramatic improvement in their pain and quality of life. However, as several studies reported symptomatic adjacent segment disease attributed to fusions’ altered kinematics, cervical disc arthroplasty emerged as a new motion-sparing alternative to fusion. Fusion at one level increases motion at adjacent levels along with increased intradiscal pressures. This phenomenon can result in symptomatic adjacent level degeneration, which can necessitate reoperation at these levels. The era of cervical arthroplasty began in Europe in the late 1990s. In recent years, artificial cervical disc arthroplasty (ACDA) has been increasingly used by spine surgeons for degenerative cervical disc disease. There have been several reports of safety, efficacy and indications of ACDA.
Cervical arthroplasty offers several theoretical advantages over anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) in the treatment of selected patients with medically refractory cervical radiculopathy. Preserving motion at the operated level, cervical TDR has the potential to decrease the occurrence of adjacent segment degeneration.
There are a few studies on the efficacy and effectiveness of ACDA compared to cervical fusion. However, the true scenery of cervical arthroplasty yet to be identified.
This study is intended to define patients' characteristics and outcomes of ACDA by a single surgeon in Iran.
This retrospective study was performed in two general Hospitals in Tehran, Iran from 2005 To 2010. All patients were operated by one senior neurospine surgeon. One hundred fifty three patients were operated in this period. All patients signed the informed consent form prior to surgery. All patients presented with cervical discopathy who had myelopathy or radiculopathy and failed conservative management, undergoing cervical disc arthroplasty by ACDA were included, consecutively. Patients were followed for at least 2 years.
Exclusion criteria was age greater than 60 years, non compliance with the study protocol, osteoporosis, infection, congenital or post traumatic deformity, malignancy metabolic bone disease, and narrow cervical canal (less than 12 mm). Heterotopic ossification and adjacent segment degenerative changes were assessed at 2 years follow up by means of neutral and dynamic xrays and CT/MRI if clinically indicated. Neck and upper extremity pain were assessed before the procedure and in the first post-operative visit and 3 months later by means of visual analogue scale.
A standard approach was performed to the anterior cervical spine. Patients were positioned supine while holding neck in neutral position. A combination of sharp and blunt dissection was performed to expose longus coli musculature and anterior cervical vertebrae. Trachea and esophagus were retracted medially and carotid artery and jugular vein laterally. After a thorough discectomy, the intersomatic space is distracted in a parallel way by a vertebral distracter. Followed by Caspar distractor is applied to provide a working channel into posterior disc space. In this stage, any remnant disc materials as well as osteophytes are removed and foraminal decompression is done. Posterior longitudinal ligament (PLL) opening and removal, although discouraged by some, is done next. In order to define the size of the prosthesis, multiple trials are tested. It is important not to exceed the height of the healthy adjacent disc to avoid facet joint overdistraction. An specific insertor is applied to plant the prosthesis in disc space. Control X-rays are advised to check the precise positioning of the implant.
one hundred-fifty three patients including 87 females and 66 males were included. The mean age was 41 for females and 42 for males. Affected level was C5-C6 in 81 cases, C6-C7 in 72 cases and C4-C5 in 10 cases. The most common applied ACDA was DiscoCerv which was inserted in 127 cases followed by prodisc-c in three patients and Baguera in thirty three psatients.Ten cases had two levels involvement. Both neck and upper extremity pain improved significantly in early and late post op assessments compared to pre-op. There was only one operative complication of quadriparesis which might be attributed to the iatrogenic cervical spinal trauma.
Cervical disc arthroplasty has been advocated to address drawbacks of fusion including loss of motion segment and adjacent level degeneration; our study along with several other reports provide considerable evidence in this regard. Cervical disc arthroplasty is a safe and effective alternative for fusion in cervical degenerative disc disease.
Cervical degenerative disc disease, Artificial cervical disc arthroplasty, Safety, Efficacy
PMCID: PMC3571562
12.  Nontraumatic Atlantoaxial Rotatory Subluxation: Grisel Syndrome. Case Report and Literature Review 
Global Spine Journal  2014;4(3):179-186.
Study Design Case report and literature review.
Objective To describe a case of nontraumatic atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation (Grisel syndrome) and to review clinical and radiologic aspects, physiopathology, and treatment of this lesion. There is no well-established protocol in the management of patients without spontaneous reduction. The authors discuss the available strategies to achieve reduction and when to operate on these patients.
Methods Case presentation of a 7-year-old patient who presented with torticollis ∼1 week after the onset of an upper airway infection. There was no history of head or neck trauma. Computed tomography demonstrated atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation and a normal atlantodental interval.
Results The patient was treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics and by progressively increasing the soft cervical collar height. Clinical reduction of the subluxation occurred after 48 hours. He wore the rigid collar for 6 weeks. At that moment, the patient was completely asymptomatic and follow-up cervical spine radiograph demonstrated an anatomical C1–C2 relation. The patient was instructed to return to daily life activities in a gradual manner.
Conclusions Grisel syndrome should be considered in the differential diagnosis of torticollis, especially in children. The management can be planned according to the classification of Fielding and Hawkins. The initial treatment involves medicines, injury reduction, and cervical spine immobilization. Surgical treatment is indicated only in cases of failure of conservative treatment, recurrences of subluxation, and irreducible subluxations.
PMCID: PMC4111947  PMID: 25083360
Grisel syndrome; atlantoaxial rotatory subluxation
13.  Brachial plexus injury mimicking a spinal-cord injury 
Objective: High-energy impact to the head, neck, and shoulder can result in cervical spine as well as brachial plexus injuries. Because cervical spine injuries are more common, this tends to be the initial focus for management. We present a case in which the initial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was somewhat misleading and a detailed neurological exam lead to the correct diagnosis.
Clinical presentation: A 19-year-old man presented to the hospital following a shoulder injury during football practice. The patient immediately complained of significant pain in his neck, shoulder, and right arm and the inability to move his right arm. He was stabilized in the field for a presumed cervical-spine injury and transported to the emergency department.
Intervention: Initial radiographic assessment (C-spine CT, right shoulder x-ray) showed no bony abnormality. MRI of the cervical-spine showed T2 signal change and cord swelling thought to be consistent with a cord contusion. With adequate pain control, a detailed neurological examination was possible and was consistent with an upper brachial plexus avulsion injury that was confirmed by CT myelogram. The patient failed to make significant neurological recovery and he underwent spinal accessory nerve grafting to the suprascapular nerve to restore shoulder abduction and external rotation, while the phrenic nerve was grafted to the musculocutaneous nerve to restore elbow flexion.
Conclusion: Cervical spinal-cord injuries and brachial plexus injuries can occur by the same high energy mechanisms and can occur simultaneously. As in this case, MRI findings can be misleading and a detailed physical examination is the key to diagnosis. However, this can be difficult in polytrauma patients with upper extremity injuries, head injuries or concomitant spinal-cord injury. Finally, prompt diagnosis and early surgical renerveration have been associated with better long-term recovery with certain types of injury.
PMCID: PMC3427963  PMID: 22956928
14.  Positive Cervical Artery Testing in a Patient with Chronic Whiplash Syndrome: Clinical Decision-Making in the Presence of Diagnostic Uncertainty 
This case report describes the diagnosis and management of a 43-year-old female patient who had sustained an injury to her neck in a motor-vehicle accident two years earlier. The major symptoms described by the patient included headache and neck pain, but history and examination also revealed signs and symptoms potentially indicative of cervical artery compromise. Physical therapy management initially consisted of soft tissue and non-thrust joint manipulation of the lower cervical and thoracic spine, specific exercise prescription, and superficial heat. Cervical vascular compromise was re-evaluated by way of the sustained extension-rotation test. When at the fifth visit this test no longer produced symptoms potentially indicative of vascular compromise, upper cervical diagnosis and management consisting of soft tissue and non-thrust joint manipulation was added. A positive outcome was achieved both at the impairment level and with regard to limitations in activities, the latter including increased performance at work, a return to previous reading activities, improved length and quality of sleep, and greater comfort while driving. At discharge, the patient reported only occasional pain and mild limitations in activities. This report describes the positive outcomes in a patient with chronic whiplash syndrome; however, its main emphasis lies in the discussion and critical evaluation of clinical reasoning in the presence of diagnostic uncertainty with regard to cervical artery compromise.
PMCID: PMC2565616  PMID: 19066653
Whiplash Syndrome; Physical Therapy; Cervical Artery; Vertebral Artery; Diagnostic Uncertainty; Clinical Reasoning
15.  Chronic Neck Pain: Making the Connection Between Capsular Ligament Laxity and Cervical Instability 
The use of conventional modalities for chronic neck pain remains debatable, primarily because most treatments have had limited success. We conducted a review of the literature published up to December 2013 on the diagnostic and treatment modalities of disorders related to chronic neck pain and concluded that, despite providing temporary relief of symptoms, these treatments do not address the specific problems of healing and are not likely to offer long-term cures. The objectives of this narrative review are to provide an overview of chronic neck pain as it relates to cervical instability, to describe the anatomical features of the cervical spine and the impact of capsular ligament laxity, to discuss the disorders causing chronic neck pain and their current treatments, and lastly, to present prolotherapy as a viable treatment option that heals injured ligaments, restores stability to the spine, and resolves chronic neck pain.
The capsular ligaments are the main stabilizing structures of the facet joints in the cervical spine and have been implicated as a major source of chronic neck pain. Chronic neck pain often reflects a state of instability in the cervical spine and is a symptom common to a number of conditions described herein, including disc herniation, cervical spondylosis, whiplash injury and whiplash associated disorder, postconcussion syndrome, vertebrobasilar insufficiency, and Barré-Liéou syndrome.
When the capsular ligaments are injured, they become elongated and exhibit laxity, which causes excessive movement of the cervical vertebrae. In the upper cervical spine (C0-C2), this can cause a number of other symptoms including, but not limited to, nerve irritation and vertebrobasilar insufficiency with associated vertigo, tinnitus, dizziness, facial pain, arm pain, and migraine headaches. In the lower cervical spine (C3-C7), this can cause muscle spasms, crepitation, and/or paresthesia in addition to chronic neck pain. In either case, the presence of excessive motion between two adjacent cervical vertebrae and these associated symptoms is described as cervical instability.
Therefore, we propose that in many cases of chronic neck pain, the cause may be underlying joint instability due to capsular ligament laxity. Currently, curative treatment options for this type of cervical instability are inconclusive and inadequate. Based on clinical studies and experience with patients who have visited our chronic pain clinic with complaints of chronic neck pain, we contend that prolotherapy offers a potentially curative treatment option for chronic neck pain related to capsular ligament laxity and underlying cervical instability.
PMCID: PMC4200875  PMID: 25328557
Atlanto-axial joint; Barré- Liéou syndrome; C1-C2 facet joint; capsular ligament laxity; cervical instability; cervical radiculopathy; chronic neck pain; facet joints; post-concussion syndrome; prolotherapy; spondylosis; vertebrobasilar insufficiency; whiplash.
16.  Chiropractic clinical practice guideline: evidence-based treatment of adult neck pain not due to whiplash 
To provide an evidence-based clinical practice guideline for the chiropractic cervical treatment of adults with acute or chronic neck pain not due to whiplash. This is a considerable health concern considered to be a priority by stakeholders, and about which the scientific information was poorly organized.
Cervical treatments: manipulation, mobilization, ischemic pressure, clinic- and home-based exercise, traction, education, low-power laser, massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, pillows, pulsed electromagnetic therapy, and ultrasound.
The primary outcomes considered were improved (reduced and less intrusive) pain and improved (increased and easier) ranges of motion (ROM) of the adult cervical spine.
An “extraction” team recorded evidence from articles found by literature search teams using 4 separate literature searches, and rated it using a Table adapted from the Oxford Centre for Evidence-based Medicine. The searches were 1) Treatment; August, 2003, using MEDLINE, CINAHL, AMED, MANTIS, ICL, The Cochrane Library (includes CENTRAL), and EBSCO, identified 182 articles. 2) Risk management (adverse events); October, 2004, identified 230 articles and 2 texts. 3) Risk management (dissection); September, 2003, identified 79 articles. 4) Treatment update; a repeat of the treatment search for articles published between September, 2003 and November, 2004 inclusive identified 121 articles.
To enable the search of the literature, the authors (Guidelines Development Committee [GDC]) regarded chiropractic treatment as including elements of “conservative” care in the search strategies, but not in the consideration of the range of chiropractic practice. Also, knowledge based only on clinical experience was considered less valid and reliable than good-caliber evidence, but where the caliber of the relevant evidence was low or it was non-existent, unpublished clinical experience was considered to be equivalent to, or better than the published evidence.
The expected benefits from the recommendations include more rapid recovery from pain, impairment and disability (improved pain and ROM). The GDC identified evidence-based pain benefits from 10 unimodal treatments and more than 7 multimodal treatments. There were no pain benefits from magnets in necklaces, education or relaxation alone, occipital release alone, or head retraction-extension exercise combinations alone. The specificity of the studied treatments meant few studies could be generalized to more than a minority of patients.
Adverse events were not addressed in most studies, but where they were, there were none or they were minor. The theoretic harm of vertebral artery dissection (VAD) was not reported, but an analysis suggested that 1 VAD may occur subsequent to 1 million cervical manipulations.
Costs were not analyzed in this guideline, but it is the understanding of the GDC that recommendations limiting ineffective care and promoting a more rapid return of patients to full functional capacity will reduce patient costs, as well as increase patient safety and satisfaction.
For simplicity, this version of the guideline includes primarily data synthesized across studies (evidence syntheses), whereas the technical and the interactive versions of this guideline ( also include relevant data from individual studies (evidence extractions).
The GDC developed treatment, risk-management and research recommendations using the available evidence. Treatment recommendations addressing 13 treatment modalities revolved around a decision algorithm comprising diagnosis (or assessment leading to diagnosis), treatment and reassessment. Several specific variations of modalities of treatment were not recommended.
For adverse events not associated with a treatment modality, but that occur in the clinical setting, there was evidence to recommend reconsideration of treatment options or referral to the appropriate health services. For adverse events associated with a treatment modality, but not a known or observable risk factor, there was evidence to recommend heightened vigilance when a relevant treatment is planned or administered. For adverse events associated with a treatment modality and predicted by an observable risk factor, there was evidence to recommend absolute contraindications, and requirements for treatment modality modification or caution to minimize harm and maximize benefit. For managing the theoretic risk of dissection, there was evidence to recommend a systematic risk-management approach. For managing the theoretic risk of stroke, there was support to recommend minimal rotation in administering any modality of upper-cervical spine treatment, and to recommend caution in treating a patient with hyperhomocysteinemia, although the evidence was especially ambiguous in both of these areas.
Research recommendations addressed the poor caliber of many of the studies; the GDC concluded that the scientific base for chiropractic cervical treatment of neck pain was not of sufficient quality or scope to “cover” current chiropractic practice comprehensively, although this should not suggest other disciplines are more evidence-based.
This guideline was authored by the 10 members of the GDC (Elizabeth Anderson-Peacock, Jean-Sébastien Blouin, Roland Bryans, Normand Danis, Andrea Furlan, Henri Marcoux, Brock Potter, Rick Ruegg, Janice Gross Stein, Eleanor White) based on the work of 3 literature search teams and an evidence extraction team, and in light of feedback from a commentator (Donald R Murphy), a 5-person review panel (Robert R Burton, Andrea Furlan, Richard Roy, Steven Silk, Roy Till), a 6-person Task Force (Grayden Bridge, H James Duncan, Wanda Lee MacPhee, Bruce Squires, Greg Stewart, Dean Wright), and 2 national profession-wide critiques of complete drafts. Two professional editors with extensive guidelines experience were contracted (Thor Eglington, Bruce P Squires). Key contributors to the guideline included individuals with specialties or expert knowledge in chiropractic, medicine, research processes, literature analysis processes, clinical practice guideline processes, protective association affairs, regulatory affairs, and the public interest. This guideline has been formally peer reviewed.
PMCID: PMC1839918  PMID: 17549134
chiropractic; guideline; evidence-based; neck pain
17.  Are “Normal” Multidetector Computed Tomographic Scans Sufficient to Allow Collar Removal in the Trauma Patient? 
The Journal of Trauma  2010;68(1):103-108.
Controversy continues as to the most safe and reliable method for clearing the cervical spine (C-spine) in a trauma patient who is rendered unable to participate in a clinical examination. Although magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most sensitive test to detect soft-tissue injuries, it is impractical for routine use in every patient largely because of its cost and time of acquiescence. Recent studies have advocated the sole use of multidetector computed tomographic (MDCT) scans of the C-spine to decide if cervical collar immobilization can be discontinued. The current investigation retrospectively reviewed a series of MDCT scans obtained after an acute traumatic event that were used to direct treatment in the emergency department (ED) or intensive care unit.
Seven-hundred and eight trauma patients consecutively admitted to the ED between June 2001 and July 2006 underwent a computed tomographic scan of their C-spine as part of an institutional protocol. We identified 91 patients with MDCT scans that were officially recorded as adequate and negative by an attending ED radiologist who had also undergone an MRI during the same trauma admission period. Retrospectively, two fellowship-trained spine surgeons independently reviewed these MDCT studies to address the following questions: (1) Is the study adequate? (2) Is it suggestive of an acute injury? (3) Is there sufficient information to safely recommend collar removal? Institutional Review Board approval was obtained before the images were reviewed. Neither clinical examination findings nor MRI readings were made available to the surgeon evaluators.
Both spine surgeons agreed that 76 of the 91 studies (84%) were adequate to evaluate for possible C-spine injuries. Seven of 91 MDCT scans (8%) were deemed inadequate by both surgeons (95% confidence interval, 2.3–13.1). Reasons for inadequacy included motion artifact, insufficient visualization of the cervical-thoracic or occipital-cervical junctions, incomplete reconstructive views, or poor quality. Three of the adequate MDCT scans had fractures that were identified by both of the spine surgeons; 4 additional fractures and 15 findings suspicious for instability were identified by at least one of the surgeons. Ultimately, 22 of 91 MDCT scans read as adequate and normal by attending radiologists were deemed suspicious for abnormality by the spine surgeons. Of these 22 cases, the official MRI reading was positive for a trauma-related abnormality in 17 cases.
C-spine clearance of patients without the ability participate in a clinical examination remains difficult. A multidisciplinary, algorithmic approach generally yields the most consistent results. However, our data highlight that reliance on a single imaging modality may lead to missed diagnosis of C-spine injuries. These data suggest that early involvement of the spine service for radiographic clearance may help identify occult injuries or suspicious findings necessitating further evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3256247  PMID: 20065764
Cervical spine; Trauma; Clearance; Multidetector computed tomographic scan; Cervical collar
18.  Upper cervical spine injuries: a management of a series of 70 cases 
Traumatic injuries of the upper cervical spine are often encountered, and may be associated to severe neurological outcome. This is a retrospective study of 70 patients, admitted over a 14 years period (1996 to 2010), for management of upper cervical spine injuries. Data concerning epidemiology, radiopathology and treatment was reviewed, and clinical and radiological evaluation was conducted. Men are more affected than women, with traffic accidents being the major traumatic cause. A cervical spine syndrome of varied intensity was found in about 90% of patients; neurological deficit was noted in 10 patients (21%). Radiological analysis discovered varied and many combined lesions: C1-C2 dislocation (7 cases), C2-C3 dislocation (9 cases), C1 fracture (10 cases) and C2 fracture (44 cases) including 28 odontoid fractures. Orthopedic treatment was carried out exclusively for 31 patients, and surgical treatment for 38 patients. One patient died before surgery because of a polytraumatisme. Posterior approach was performed in 29 cases including hooks and rods in 18 patients, wiring in 9 cases, and 2 transarticular screw fixations. In 9 cases anterior approach was performed: 5 odontoid screwing and 4 cases of C2-C3 discectomy with bone graft. Nearly all patients were improved in post-operative. Elsewhere, the operating results were marked by a persistent neurological deficit in 2 cases, and infection in 2 cases controlled by medical treatment. Mean follow-up was 23 months and showed good clinical and radiological improvement. Early management of cervical spine injuries can optimize outcome. Treatment modalities are well codified; however controversy remains especially with type II odontoid fractures.
PMCID: PMC3801262  PMID: 24147183
Upper cervical spine; injury; surgical management; prognosis
19.  Artificial Discs for Lumbar and Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease –Update 
Executive Summary
To assess the safety and efficacy of artificial disc replacement (ADR) technology for degenerative disc disease (DDD).
Clinical Need
Degenerative disc disease is the term used to describe the deterioration of 1 or more intervertebral discs of the spine. The prevalence of DDD is roughly described in proportion to age such that 40% of people aged 40 years have DDD, increasing to 80% among those aged 80 years or older. Low back pain is a common symptom of lumbar DDD; neck and arm pain are common symptoms of cervical DDD. Nonsurgical treatments can be used to relieve pain and minimize disability associated with DDD. However, it is estimated that about 10% to 20% of people with lumbar DDD and up to 30% with cervical DDD will be unresponsive to nonsurgical treatments. In these cases, surgical treatment is considered. Spinal fusion (arthrodesis) is the process of fusing or joining 2 bones and is considered the surgical gold standard for DDD.
Artificial disc replacement is the replacement of the degenerated intervertebral disc with an artificial disc in people with DDD of the lumbar or cervical spine that has been unresponsive to nonsurgical treatments for at least 6 months. Unlike spinal fusion, ADR preserves movement of the spine, which is thought to reduce or prevent the development of adjacent segment degeneration. Additionally, a bone graft is not required for ADR, and this alleviates complications, including bone graft donor site pain and pseudoarthrosis. It is estimated that about 5% of patients who require surgery for DDD will be candidates for ADR.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat conducted a computerized search of the literature published between 2003 and September 2005 to answer the following questions:
What is the effectiveness of ADR in people with DDD of the lumbar or cervical regions of the spine compared with spinal fusion surgery?
Does an artificial disc reduce the incidence of adjacent segment degeneration (ASD) compared with spinal fusion?
What is the rate of major complications (device failure, reoperation) with artificial discs compared with surgical spinal fusion?
One reviewer evaluated the internal validity of the primary studies using the criteria outlined in the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Injuries Group Quality Assessment Tool. The quality of concealment allocation was rated as: A, clearly yes; B, unclear; or C, clearly no. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system was used to evaluate the overall quality of the body of evidence (defined as 1 or more studies) supporting the research questions explored in this systematic review. A random effects model meta-analysis was conducted when data were available from 2 or more randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and when there was no statistical and or clinical heterogeneity among studies. Bayesian analyses were undertaken to do the following:
Examine the influence of missing data on clinical success rates;
Compute the probability that artificial discs were superior to spinal fusion (on the basis of clinical success rates);
Examine whether the results were sensitive to the choice of noninferiority margin.
Summary of Findings
The literature search yielded 140 citations. Of these, 1 Cochrane systematic review, 1 RCT, and 10 case series were included in this review. Unpublished data from an RCT reported in the grey literature were obtained from the manufacturer of the device. The search also yielded 8 health technology assessments evaluating ADR that are also included in this review.
Six of the 8 health technology assessments concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of either lumbar or cervical ADR. The results of the remaining 2 assessments (one each for lumbar and cervical ADR) led to a National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidance document supporting the safety and effectiveness of lumbar and cervical ADR with the proviso that an ongoing audit of all clinical outcomes be undertaken owing to a lack of long-term outcome data from clinical trials.
Regarding lumbar ADR, data were available from 2 noninferiority RCTs to complete a meta-analysis. The following clinical, health systems, and adverse event outcome measures were synthesized: primary outcome of clinical success, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, pain VAS scores, patient satisfaction, duration of surgery, amount of blood loss, length of hospital stay, rate of device failure, and rate of reoperation.
The meta-analysis of overall clinical success supported the noninferiority of lumbar ADR compared with spinal fusion at 24-month follow-up. Of the remaining clinical outcome measures (ODI, pain VAS scores, SF-36 scores [mental and physical components], patient satisfaction, and return to work status), only patient satisfaction and scores on the physical component scale of the SF-36 questionnaire were significantly improved in favour of lumbar ADR compared with spinal fusion at 24 months follow-up. Blood loss and surgical time showed statistical heterogeneity; therefore, meta-analysis results are not interpretable. Length of hospital stay was significantly shorter in patients receiving the ADR compared with controls. Neither the number of device failures nor the number of neurological complications at 24 months was statistically significantly different between the ADR and fusion treatment groups. However, there was a trend towards fewer neurological complications at 24 months in the ADR treatment group compared with the spinal fusion treatment group.
Results of the Bayesian analyses indicated that the influence of missing data on the outcome measure of clinical success was minimal. The Bayesian model indicated that the probability for ADR being better than spinal fusion was 79%. The probability of ADR being noninferior to spinal fusion using a -10% noninferiority bound was 92%, and using a -15% noninferiority bound was 94%. The probability of artificial discs being superior to spinal fusion in a future trial was 73%.
Six case series were reviewed, mainly to characterize the rate of major complications for lumbar ADR. The Medical Advisory Secretariat defined a major complication as any reoperation; device failure necessitating a revision, removal or reoperation; or life-threatening event. The rates of major complications ranged from 0% to 13% per device implanted. Only 1 study reported the rate of ASD, which was detected in 2 (2%) of the 100 people 11 years after surgery.
There were no RCT data available for cervical ADR; therefore, data from 4 case series were reviewed for evidence of effectiveness and safety. Because data were sparse, the effectiveness of cervical ADR compared with spinal fusion cannot be determined at this time.
The rate of major complications was assessed up to 2 years after surgery. It was found to range from 0% to 8.1% per device implanted. The rate of ASD is not reported in the clinical trial literature.
The total cost of a lumbar ADR procedure is $15,371 (Cdn; including costs related to the device, physician, and procedure). The total cost of a lumbar fusion surgery procedure is $11,311 (Cdn; including physicians’ and procedural costs).
Lumbar Artificial Disc Replacement
Since the 2004 Medical Advisory Secretariat health technology policy assessment, data from 2 RCTs and 6 case series assessing the effectiveness and adverse events profile of lumbar ADR to treat DDD has become available. The GRADE quality of this evidence is moderate for effectiveness and for short-term (2-year follow-up) complications; it is very low for ASD.
The effectiveness of lumbar ADR is not inferior to that of spinal fusion for the treatment of lumbar DDD. The rates for device failure and neurological complications 2 years after surgery did not differ between ADR and fusion patients. Based on a Bayesian meta-analysis, lumbar ADR is 79% superior to lumbar spinal fusion.
The rate of major complications after lumbar ADR is between 0% and 13% per device implanted. The rate of ASD in 1 case series was 2% over an 11-year follow-up period.
Outcome data for lumbar ADR beyond a 2-year follow-up are not yet available.
Cervical Artificial Disc Replacement
Since the 2004 Medical Advisory Secretariat health technology policy assessment, 4 case series have been added to the body of evidence assessing the effectiveness and adverse events profile of cervical ADR to treat DDD. The GRADE quality of this evidence is very low for effectiveness as well as for the adverse events profile. Sparse outcome data are available.
Because data are sparse, the effectiveness of cervical ADR compared with spinal fusion cannot be determined at this time.
The rate of major complications was assessed up to 2 years after surgery; it ranged from 0% to 8.1% per device implanted. The rate of ASD is not reported in the clinical trial literature.
PMCID: PMC3379529  PMID: 23074480
20.  Elongated Styloid Process and Cervical Spondylosis 
Dysphagia, is a significant sign of many different lesions in upper digestive system especially in proximal esophagus. Tumors, gastroesophageal reflux, achalasia and extrinsic compressions are the most common causes that may lead to dysphagia in geriatric population. Cervical osteophyte induced dysphagia, is one of the uncommon reasons of dysphagia, therefore other causes of dysphagia must be excluded to establish the exact diagnosis. Eagle syndrome is one of the considerable reason which may lead to misdiagnosis in patients with cervical osteophytes. In this case report, we represent four patients who had dysphagia due to anteriorly located cervical osteophytes and evaluate the patients with special reference to Eagle syndrome.
Material and methods
After a detailed anamnesis and ENT examination, cervical plain radiographs in four projections and Towne radiographs were obtained for every patient. After that, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of cervical spine and barium swallowing studies were performed to evaluate the presence of esophageal compression.
Eagle syndrome was excluded due to absence of other symptoms and physical signs, eventhough unilateral or bilateral elongation of styloid processes was found in all of the patients.
Cervical osteophytes induced dysphagia is a rare clinical entity, diagnosis should be done by a careful examination, intensive radiologic evaluation. Moreover, all the other causes like Eagle syndrome should be excluded during the diagnosis of cervical osteophyte induced dysphagia.
PMCID: PMC3785345  PMID: 24179348
cervical; osteophyte; dysphagia; eagle’s syndrome
21.  Cervical fixation in the pediatric patient: our experience 
European Spine Journal  2009;18(Suppl 1):20-28.
The surgical management of cervical instability in children is a challenging issue. Although the indications for internal fixation are similar to those for adults, accurate pre-surgery study and sharp surgical techniques are necessary because of the size of such patients’ anatomy, their peculiar tissue biology and the wide spectrum of diseases requiring cervical fusion. Our case study is made up of 31 patients, 15 male and 16 female, with an average age of 7 years and 6 months (2 years and 6 months to 18 years) who underwent cervical fusion for instability. Their physical condition presented various different pathologies ranging from congenital deformity, systemic skeletal disease, tumors, trauma, post-surgery instability. We performed occipito-cervical fusion in 11 cases, 5 of which involved stabilization at the cranium–vertebral junction. We used instrumentation in 13 cases (3 sublaminar wiring, 10 rigid adult instrumentation). We used rigid adult instrumentation in three patients under 10 years of age, treated by rod, occipital screws and sublaminar hook instrumentation in steel C0–C2 (9-year-old male, affected by os odontoideum in Down’s syndrome; male of 7 years and 10 months, affected by os odontoideum in Down’s syndrome; female of 4 years and 6 months with occipito-cervical stenosis and C0–C2 instability in Hurler’s syndrome). We operated on two patients under 3 years of age, using sublaminar wiring with bone precursors and allograft at level C0–C2 (one of these was a 30-month-old male with post-traumatic instability C0–C2, while the other was a 17-month-old male with C0–C2 instability in Larsen’s syndrome). The average follow-up age was 7 years and 1 month (between 1 and 18 years). Cervical fusion was assessed by X-ray examinations at 4th and 12th weeks and at 6th and 12th months after surgery. Where implants could allow, RMN examination was performed at 1st month after surgery. In the other cases, in which implants do not allow RMN to be performed, CT scan and standard X-rays were carried out, and new X-rays were performed every other year. We experienced two cases of sublaminar wiring rupture without impairment of bone fusion. No patient suffered major complications (infection and osteomyelitis, rigid instrumentation mobilization, incomplete fusion with instability, neurologic impairment, insufficient cervical spine range of movement to cope with everyday life activities, cervical pain). Even though most authors still indicate that rigid instrumentation should be performed in cases over 10 years of age and sublaminar wiring in cases over 3 years of age, our findings demonstrate that this age limit can be lowered. We have treated children under 10 years of age by rigid adult instrumentation and under 36 months of age by wiring. The anatomic size of the patient is the most important factor in determining the use of instrument arthrodesis to treat pediatric cervical spine instability. Although not easy, it is possible and preferable in many cases to adapt fixation to child cervical spine even in very young patients.
PMCID: PMC2899601  PMID: 19404690
Pediatric cervical spine; Craniocervical junction; Posterior cervical fixation
22.  Management of Cervical Spine Injuries in Athletes 
Journal of Athletic Training  2007;42(1):126-134.
Objective: Although the incidence of catastrophic cervical spine injury in sport has been significantly reduced over the past 3 decades, the injury warrants continued attention because of the altered quality of life that often accompanies such an injury. The purpose of our literature review was to provide athletic trainers with an understanding of the mechanisms, anatomical structures, and complications often associated with sport-related cervical spine injury. We also present the most current recommendations for management and treatment of these potentially catastrophic injuries.
Data Sources: A review of the most pertinent literature between 1970 and 2005 was conducted using MEDLINE and the search terms spinal cord injury, cervical spine injury, neurosurgical trauma, cervical spinal stenosis, and catastrophic spine injury.
Data Synthesis: Flexion of the head places the cervical spine into a straight line and prevents the neck musculature from assisting in force absorption. This mechanism is the primary cause of cervical fracture, dislocation, and quadriplegia. The most serious of the syndromes described in the literature involves a complete spinal cord injury with transverse myelopathy. This injury typically results in total loss of spinal function below the level of the lesion.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Spinal trauma may result in a variety of clinical syndromes, according to the type and severity of the impact and bony displacement, as well as subsequent secondary insults such as hemorrhage, ischemia, and edema. Athletic trainers should be prepared to promptly recognize these potentially catastrophic injuries and follow the recommendations of the Inter-Association Task Force for the Appropriate Care of the Spine Injured Athlete in managing such injuries.
PMCID: PMC1896065  PMID: 17597954
neck injury; spinal stenosis; quadriplegia; catastrophic injuries
23.  Emergency department intubation of trauma patients with undiagnosed cervical spine injury 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2004;21(3):302-305.
Objectives: Some trauma patients have an undiagnosed cervical spine injury but require immediate airway control. This paper reports an emergency department's (ED) experience with these patients. In particular, is there a worse neurological outcome?
Methods: A retrospective study over 6.5 years, based on prospectively collected data from the Royal Perth Hospital trauma registry. Patients with a cervical spine injury were identified and clinical data were abstracted. The primary outcome measure was evidence of exacerbation of cervical spine injury as a result of intubation by ED medical staff.
Results: 308 patients (1.9%) of the 15 747 trauma patients were intubated by ED medical staff. Thirty seven (12%) were subsequently verified to have a cervical spine injury, of which 36 were managed with orotracheal intubation. Twenty five (69%) survived to have a meaningful post-intubation neurological examination. Fourteen (56%) of these 25 patients had an unstable cervical spine injury. Ninety per cent of all ED intubations were by ED medical staff. No worsening of neurological outcomes occurred.
Conclusions: Every ninth trauma patient that this ED intubates has a cervical spine injury. Intubation by ED medical staff did not worsen neurological outcome. In the controlled setting of an ED staffed by senior practitioners, patients with undiagnosed cervical spine injury can be safely intubated.
PMCID: PMC1726318  PMID: 15107367
24.  Evaluation of low‐cost computer monitors for the detection of cervical spine injuries in the emergency room: an observer confidence‐based study 
Emergency Medicine Journal : EMJ  2006;23(11):850-853.
To compare the diagnostic value of low‐cost computer monitors and a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) workstation for the evaluation of cervical spine fractures in the emergency room.
Two groups of readers blinded to the diagnoses (2 radiologists and 3 orthopaedic surgeons) independently assessed–digital radiographs of the cervical spine (anterior–posterior, oblique and trans‐oral‐dens views). The radiographs of 57 patients who arrived consecutively to the emergency room in 2004 with clinical suspicion of a cervical spine injury were evaluated. The diagnostic values of these radiographs were scored on a 3‐point scale (1 = diagnosis not possible/bad image quality, 2 = diagnosis uncertain, 3 = clear diagnosis of fracture or no fracture) on a PACS workstation and on two different liquid crystal display (LCD) personal computer monitors. The images were randomised to avoid memory effects. We used logistic mixed‐effects models to determine the possible effects of monitor type on the evaluation of x ray images. To determine the overall effects of monitor type, this variable was used as a fixed effect, and the image number and reader group (radiologist or orthopaedic surgeon) were used as random effects on display quality. Group‐specific effects were examined, with the reader group and additional fixed effects as terms. A significance level of 0.05 was established for assessing the contribution of each fixed effect to the model.
Overall, the diagnostic score did not differ significantly between standard personal computer monitors and the PACS workstation (both p values were 0.78).
Low‐cost LCD personal computer monitors may be useful in establishing a diagnosis of cervical spine fractures in the emergency room.
PMCID: PMC2464403  PMID: 17057136
25.  Vertebral artery injuries following cervical spine trauma: a prospective observational study 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(12):2202-2209.
The purpose of this study was to report on the incidence, diagnosis and clinical manifestation of VAI following cervical spine injuries observed in a prospective observational study with a standardized clinical and radiographical protocol.
During a 16-year period, 69 (mean age: 43 ± 20.7 years; 25 female, 44 male) of 599 patients had cervical spine injury suspicious for VAI due to facet luxation and/or fractures extending into the transverse foramen. Diagnosis and management of these patients followed a previously published protocol (Kral in Zentralbl Neurochir 63:153–158, 2002). Digital subtraction angiography (DSA) was performed in all 69 patients. Injury grading of VAI was done according to Biffl et al. (Ann Surg 231:672–681, 2000). All patients with VAI were treated with anticoagulation (heparin followed by ASS) for 6 months.
In cases suspicious for VAI, the incidence of VAI detected by DSA was 27.5% (n = 19 of 69 patients). VAI Grade I occurred in 15.8%, Grade II in 26.3%, Grade IV in 52.6% and Grade V in 5.2%. Of 19 patients, 4 (21%) had clinical signs of vertebrobasilar ischemia. Two patients died in hospital after 4 and 21 days respectively. Of 69 patients, 33 (47.8%) with suspected VAI had unstable spine injuries and were treated surgically.
In patients with cervical spine fractures or dislocations crossing the course of the vertebral artery, VAI are relatively frequent and may be associated with significant morbidity and mortality. VAI were identified by DSA in 27.5%. Despite anticoagulation therapy, 5.8% became clinically symptomatic and 2.9% died due to cerebrovascular ischemia.
PMCID: PMC3229739  PMID: 21717238
Vertebral artery injury; Arteriography; Cervical spine trauma; CT-angiography; MR-angiography

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