Index to Chiropractic Literature
Index to Chiropractic Literature
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ID 15783
  Title Missed cervical spine fracture-dislocations: the importance of clinical and radiographic assessment [case report]
Journal J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2002 May;25(4):263-269
Peer Review Yes
Publication Type Case Report
Abstract/Notes OBJECTIVE: To review the case of a patient who suffered a cervical spine fracture-dislocation missed at a hospital emergency department.

CLINICAL FEATURES: A 77-year-old man involved in a motor vehicle accident was transported to a local emergency hospital where cervical spine x-ray films taken were reported as demonstrating no evidence of acute injury. The patient visited a chiropractic clinic 6 days later, where x-ray films were again obtained, finding that the patient sustained fractures of C5 and C6, as well as a bilateral facet dislocation at C5/C6. Computed tomography confirmed the fractures, and magnetic resonance imaging findings demonstrated cervical spinal cord compression and posterior spinal cord displacement.

INTERVENTION AND OUTCOME: The patient was referred for preoperative medical evaluation. He underwent C5-6 closed reduction and anterior/posterior fusion surgery and was released without complication. Patient follow-up indicated full recovery with minimal neurologic symptoms.

CONCLUSION: Cervical spine fracture-dislocations are often missed during standard radiographic examinations in emergency department settings. Chiropractors are encouraged to perform a comprehensive evaluation of patients presenting with cervical trauma even if they have had prior x-ray films reported as normal. Standard x-ray films taken at emergency department facilities are not entirely reliable for detecting or revealing cervical spine fracture-dislocations. This case stresses the importance of careful clinical assessment and imaging procedures on patients who have encountered cervical spine trauma.

Click on the above link for the PubMed record for this case report; full text by subscription.

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