Clearing the Cervical Spine in the Child Under 8 Years

Abstract

Cervical spine injuries in children are usually associated with motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and falls. Although cervical spine injuries in children are uncommon, these injuries deserve special attention because a missed or delayed diagnosis can result in devastating consequences, including additional injury to the cervical spinal cord and nerve roots. There are several challenging issues with regard to clearing the spine in a pediatric patient, including patient compliance, lack of agreement on the best imaging modalities for children, the complex radiographic anatomy of the pediatric cervical spine, and the lack of a well-established protocol for dealing with this problem. Therefore, expediting clearance of the cervical spine should be a multidisciplinary approach, involving the emergency room physicians, pediatric surgeons, pediatricians, and pediatric orthopaedic surgeons. Deformity, instability, and neurologic sequelae may be prevented by establishing a clear methodology for early recognition and management of those at risk.

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