Podcast #174: Cervical Spine

8a7dc42a-f8b2-43c0-b61b-0beac1397e14Run Time:  5 minutes

Author: Dylan Luyten M.D.

Educational Pearls:

  • Cervical spine immobilization is a big change in the EMS protocol over several years.
  • Cervical collars were developed for rehabilitation after neck or spine surgery, but became a tool for prehospital treatment of undifferentiated trauma patients that may or may not have injured the neck.
  • There is no real evidence that the cervical collar prevents secondary spinal cord injury.
  • The problem is that these patients may not even exist. The forces to injure the cervical spine – transect the bones or tear ligaments – are so great the it is unlikely that the cervical spine was not also injured during the initial trauma.
  • Deterioration of a patient with a possible cervical spine injury are likely due to increasing edema and ischemia in the spinal cord.
  • The cervical collar does not diminish the force on the neck even with restriction of movement.

Link to Podcast: http://medicalminute.madewithopinion.com/the-cervical-spine/

References: http://www.jems.com/articles/print/volume-40/issue-2/patient-care/why-ems-should-limit-use-rigid-cervical.html

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