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Cervical Spine Fracture

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Cervical Spine Fracture

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Fractures of the cervical spine are located very high up on a neck and have the potential to be serious.

What is a Cervical Spine Fracture?

A spine is broken up into different levels and the level highest up in a neck is called the cervical spine. These vertebrae are shaped differently from others and a bone fracture in the cervical spine is called a cervical spine fracture. These traumatic injuries, because of their proximity to the brain, have a potential to cause serious complications or even death.

Mechanism of Injury

A cervical spine fracture typically results from serious trauma to the top of the head or neck area. For example, someone who dives into a pool and hits the bottom with their head has the potential to fracture one, or more, of their cervical vertebrae. Furthermore, someone who is involved in an auto accident or suffers a pedestrian injury has the potential to strike their head on the pavement or car, leading to a cervical fracture.

Treatment of a Cervical Fracture

Once a patient has been properly diagnosed using either a CT scan, x-ray, or MRI, treatment can proceed. The first step is to immobilize the neck in a brace to ensure that a patient doesn’t move, causing further damage. Then, a more thorough evaluation must be completed to determine if a patient requires surgery. This typically involves checking to see if the vertebrae has been dislocated or if there has been damage to the peripheral nerves.

Possible Complications

The cervical spine is high up in the spine and has a potential to impact the entire body. A few of the comorbidities include a loss of range of motion in the neck, loss of sensory function, and chronic pain. Patients who suffer a cervical spine fracture could die if a piece of their cervical vertebrae damages the brainstem, such as with a C1 or C2 fracture.

Structures at Risk

Both brainstem and spinal cord are at risk with any fracture of the cervical spine. A cervical spine fracture of an atlas or axis, C1 and C2, could damage the brainstem. Further down, the spinal cord is at risk from a cervical fracture.

Differential Diagnosis

There are many different diagnoses that are on the table with a cervical spine fracture. These include:

  • Spinous process fracture
  • Thoracic vertebra fracture
  • Laminar fracture
  • Lumbar fracture
  • Burst fracture

Injury Prognosis

The prognosis of this injury is going to hinge on the location in the cervical spine of the fracture and the type of fracture that has been sustained. If there aren’t any neurological symptoms or damage to the brainstem, the prognosis is favorable.

Surgery is Unusual

Surgery is required if the cervical vertebrae pieces are out of place, if a patient has suffered brain damage, or if a patient is suffering other neurological symptoms. Every case is handled individually.

Related Articles by Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer, Ed Smith:

Contact a Compassionate Cervical Fracture Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Patients who have suffered damage to their cervical spine should contact me at (916) 921-6400 for friendly, free advice. I do have a toll-free number available to people calling from outside of Sacramento, at (800) 404-5400.

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Image Attribution: used under the 4.0 version of the Creative Commons Share-Alike license, via Wikimedia Commons.

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