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Evaluation and acute management of cervical spinal column injuries in adults

Amy Kaji, MD, PhD
Robert S Hockberger, MD, FACEP
Section Editor
Maria E Moreira, MD
Deputy Editor
Jonathan Grayzel, MD, FAAEM


This topic review discusses the evaluation and initial management of injuries to the cervical spinal column in adults, including the appropriate use of imaging studies. The importance of early recognition and appropriate management of such injuries is underscored by their association with spinal cord injury.

Descriptions of the range of spinal column fractures and other injuries, the management of spinal cord injuries, and spinal trauma in children are discussed separately. (See "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs" and "Acute traumatic spinal cord injury" and "Anatomy and localization of spinal cord disorders" and "Evaluation of cervical spine injuries in children and adolescents" and "Overview of cervical spinal cord and cervical peripheral nerve injuries in the child or adolescent athlete".)


The epidemiology and clinically important anatomy related to cervical spine injuries are discussed separately. (See "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs", section on 'Epidemiology' and "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs", section on 'Anatomy'.)


Common mechanisms of injury, classification schemes, and important types of cervical spinal column injuries are discussed separately. (See "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs", section on 'Mechanisms of injury' and "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs", section on 'Cervical spinal column injury'.)


Prehospital management — General prehospital management of trauma is discussed separately; subjects of particular importance to spinal injury are described below. (See "Prehospital care of the adult trauma patient".)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Dec 2, 2015.
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