Cervical Spine Injuries in the Elderly

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 1994 Nov;76(6):877-81.


We reviewed 41 patients over the age of 65 years (mean 76.5) who had suffered cervical spine injuries, 12 of them with neurological deficit. Eleven patients died during treatment, mostly from respiratory disease. Seven patients were treated by surgical stabilisation, five by halo traction, and the rest by rigid collars or halo-vests. The cervical injury was missed at the first examination in four patients. We conclude that most injuries can be treated by a rigid collar, and that the use of a halo-vest or surgical stabilisation are effective alternatives. Bed rest and traction are poorly tolerated by old people. There should be a high index of suspicion that any elderly patient who presents with a history of a fall or minor trauma may have a cervical spine injury.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / innervation
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morbidity
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Spinal Fractures / classification
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology
  • Spinal Fractures / mortality
  • Spinal Fractures / therapy*
  • Spinal Fusion
  • Spinal Injuries / classification
  • Spinal Injuries / etiology
  • Spinal Injuries / mortality
  • Spinal Injuries / surgery
  • Traction
  • Treatment Outcome