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Orthopedics. 2008 Dec;31(12). pii:

Cervical spine injury: tiger attack.

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  • 1Mayo Clinic, 200 1st St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.


Reports of tiger attacks in the United States are rare. This article presents a case of a young woman who was violently attacked by a Siberian tiger and sustained penetrating trauma to the neck, cervical spine, and bilateral lower extremities. This article presents both diagnostic and therapeutic management of patients who may present with similar injuries. Animal bites from large animals are prone to infection in 10% to 20% of cases. Most infections are polymicrobial, with Pasteurella multicida being the most common isolate. Animal bites also mandate consideration of tetanus and rabies prophylaxis. The decision to administer postexposure rabies prophylaxis is dependent on the type of animal involved, whether the exposure was provoked, the local epidemiology of rabies, and the availability of the animal for observation or testing. Assessment of patients with cervical spine injury requires knowledge of possible associated injuries. Evaluation involves assessment of plain radiographs and computed tomography for evaluation of the cervical spine for bony injury. Furthermore, computed angiography is advantageous to noninvasively evaluate carotid or vertebral artery injury at the same setting in patients with deep cervical puncture wounds. Surgical treatment of unstable cervical spine fractures with lateral mass screw and rod fixation has been reported in the literature to have superior biomechanical properties compared to anterior and posterior instrumentation and fusion. In recent clinical studies, the use of lateral mass screws for traumatic injury of the cervical spine has been associated with excellent maintenance of alignment and minimal complications.

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