Halo immobilization of cervical spine fractures. Indications and results

P. R. Cooper, K. R. Maravilla, F. H. Sklar, S. F. Moody, W. K. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Thirty-three patients with a spectrum of cervical spine fractures or subluxations were treated with immobilization by a halo apparatus. All spines were assumed to be unstable because of the nature of the fracture or because of a subluxation noted on spine films. Treatment consisted of immobilization and fracture reduction followed by application of a halo plaster cast or molded halo plastic fest. Patient acceptance was high. Complications were few and minor. No patients experienced neurological deterioration during treatment. Reduction was well maintained during an average halo immobilization period of over 3 months. Use of the halo resulted in healing of bone and ligament and restoration of stability in 85% of the patients. Halo immobilization was efficacious in the treatment of odontoid and hangman's fractures as well as complex fractures involving multiple areas of a single vertebra. It was also used successfully as an adjunct to posterior cervical fusion. Although several patients with subluxations or angulation without bone injury were treated successfully, two of the four therapy failures occurred in this group of patients, and the halo must be used with caution in this clinical setting. Contraindications to the use of the halo include complete cervical spinal cord injury with anesthetic skin, tomography and/or myelographic evidence of disc or bone within the spinal canal, and unsatisfactorily reduced subluxations. The halo has provided more effective and reliable immobilization than other orthoses. It is an acceptable alternative to cervical fusion for the achievement of stability in a wide variety of cervical spine fractures and dislocations avoiding both the short-term and perhaps long-term complications of spinal fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalUnknown Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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