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Ann Emerg Med. 1997 Sep;30(3):249-52.

Pediatric cervical spine injury sustained in falls from low heights.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN, USA.

Erratum in

  • Ann Emerg Med 1998 Jan;31(1):141.



To determine whether history and clinical examination findings can identify young children who have sustained cervical injury after falling short distances.


We conducted a retrospective review of the medical records of children younger than 6 years old with the diagnosis of cervical vertebral fracture or cervical spinal cord injury after a fall of less than 5 feet. Data from medical records over an average time span of 11 years at four large children's hospitals were compiled.


We identified eight children who sustained cervical spine injury after a fall of less than 5 feet. These children ranged in age from 9 to 68 months. Three had rotary subluxation of C1, and three had subluxation of C1-C2. One of the children in the latter group also had an odontoid fracture. Two children had a fracture of C2. All the children had limited range of motion of the neck or neck pain.


All children in this study with the diagnosis of cervical spine injury had clinical evidence of that injury on history or physical examination. Clinicians treating asymptomatic young children who sustain short falls may not need to perform radiographic evaluation of the cervical spine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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