Evaluation of spine injury in blunt trauma

J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2002 Feb;102(2):87-91.


Although prehospital trauma guidelines call for spine immobilization for many trauma victims, there is a lack of clarity in medical institutions as to how trauma or emergency medicine physicians should proceed to remove cervical immobilization devices (CIDs) and "clear" the spine. Despite wide variations in physicians' approaches to such matters, however, certain specific aspects of vertebral assessment in such circumstances are well documented. The authors describe and explore several of these issues with respect to initial approach to the immobilized patient, clinical clearance of the spine, radiographic evaluation of the vertebrae in victims of blunt trauma, management of spine tenderness or pain, removal of CIDs, and indications for subspecialty consultation. Critical care physicians should be reminded that the responsibility lies with them for removing CIDs and halting other spine precautions--underlying the importance of careful consultation with radiologists and other specialists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Emergency Medical Services / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immobilization
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy
  • Spinal Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Injuries / therapy
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / diagnosis*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy