Occult cervical spine injuries in fatal traffic accidents

R. W. Bucholz, W. Z. Burkhead, W. Graham, C. Petty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations


Post-mortem radiographs as well as careful inspection at autopsy of 100 consecutive traffic accident victims revealed an incidence of cervical spine injury of 24%. All but four of the 24 fractures and/or dislocations were localized to the level between the occiput and the axis. One half of the cases were not clinically suspected of having spine injuries before the detailed postmortem search. Seventeen of the 24 cervical spines were resected en bloc and the pathologic anatomy of the injuries was determined. The high incidence of cervical spine injuries and the anatomic findings at dissection have clinical implications for physicians who manage multiply traumatized patients. The need for immobilization and early radiographic evaluation of patients with cervical spine injuries is emphasized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)768-771
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1979

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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