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J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2011 Oct;19(10):600-11.

Pediatric cervical spine trauma.

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  • 1Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics, Madison, WI, USA.


Pediatric cervical spine injuries are rare and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Pediatric anatomy and physiology predispose to upper cervical spine injury and spinal cord injury without radiologic abnormality in contrast to lower cervical spine injury seen in adults. Care of pediatric patients is difficult because they have a greater head-to-body ratio than adults and may have difficulty cooperating with a history and physical examination. In evaluating a child with a suspected cervical spine injury, radiography may be supplemented with CT or MRI. Definitive management of pediatric cervical spine trauma must be adapted to the distinctive anatomy and growth potential of the patient. As with all injuries, prevention is necessary to reduce the incidence of trauma to the pediatric spine.

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