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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2006 Sep;14(9):552-64.

Clearing the pediatric cervical spine following injury.

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Department of Orthopaedics, Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals of Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.


Injury to the pediatric cervical spine is uncommon; however, a missed or delayed diagnosis can lead to disastrous consequences. Thus, following trauma, clearance of the pediatric cervical spine is important. Problematic issues include child compliance with examination, the complex anatomy of the pediatric cervical spine, lack of agreement on definitive imaging modalities, and the coordination of multiple medical specialties. Expediting clearance of the pediatric cervical spine requires an organized, multidisciplinary approach. In addition to systematic procedures within the emergency department, preventing missed and delayed diagnoses of cervical spine injury can be facilitated by applying a clear methodology for reviewing radiographs in conjunction with the child's clinical examination. This algorithm considers the adequacy of the images, alignment of the bony and soft-tissue elements, assessment of the cervical intervals, and the presence of abnormal angulation. Together with standard treatment, this protocol facilitates effective and expeditious clearance of the cervical spine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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