Cervical spinal fractures in Alpine skiers

Orthopedics. 1995 Aug;18(8):737-41. doi: 10.3928/0147-7447-19950801-08.


A 5-year review of skiing injuries in the Aspen/Snowmass area revealed 18 cervical fractures. This represents a yearly average of 3.6 fractures (range: 2 to 5). There were 16 men and 2 women identified, with an average age of 40.8 years (range: 20 to 73). Using estimates of skier days and total injuries, cervical fractures represented approximately 0.1% of all skiing injuries. Six of 18 injuries (33%) were avulsion injuries of the spinous processes and were treated symptomatically with a soft collar. However, five patients had neurologic involvement secondary to fracture displacement, two with lasting quadriparesis. In addition, there was one death attributed to cervical fracture. Forty-four percent of the patients had associated injuries, most commonly facial and head (33%). The three oldest patients (average age: 67 years, range: 57 to 73) had three of the more serious injuries. Two of these patients were the quadriplegics, and a third required halo stabilization of bilateral C2 facet fractures. Typically, those patients who were involved in collisions with immovable objects (trees or fences) had more severe injuries and a greater chance of neurologic involvement.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skiing / injuries*
  • Spinal Fractures* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Fractures* / therapy