The epidemiology of fractures and fracture-dislocations of the cervical spine

Injury. 1992;23(1):38-40. doi: 10.1016/0020-1383(92)90123-a.


A total of 717 fractures and fracture-dislocations of the cervical spine occurred in 657 patients in a 13-year period. Injury was commonest in the third decade of life. The levels most frequently injured were the second, fifth, and sixth. Injuries of the first and second cervical vertebrae commonly occurred together, and injuries involving the upper and lower cervical spine in the same individual occurred in 9 per cent of patients with fractures of C1 and C2. Odontoid fractures were the most frequent fractures in patients over 70 years of age, and formed the majority of fractures in patients over 80 years of age. It is recommended that if a fracture of the upper cervical spine is seen on radiographs, another fracture in the upper or lower cervical spine should be excluded. Patients aged 70 years and above who complain of neck pain after trauma should be suspected of having an odontoid fracture, until proven otherwise.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Joint Dislocations / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Trauma / epidemiology*
  • New South Wales
  • Odontoid Process / injuries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fractures / epidemiology*