Isolated transverse process fractures of the subaxial cervical spine: a clinically insignificant injury or not?: a prospective, longitudinal analysis in a consecutive high-energy blunt trauma population.
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SourceSpine, 35, 19, (2010), pp. E965-70
Article / Letter to editor
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SubjectNCEBP 10: Human Movement & Fatigue
STUDY DESIGN: Prospective single cohort study. OBJECTIVE: To analyze the incidence, associated injuries, treatment outcomes and associated adverse events of isolated transverse process fractures (TPFs) of the subaxial cervical spine in a high-energy blunt trauma population. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Currently, TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine are considered to be clinically insignificant. However, this hypothesis is based on clinical experience and has never been supported by research previously. METHODS: During a 32-month period, routine computed tomography scans of the spine were obtained in high-energy blunt trauma patients. Patients with isolated TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine were prospectively identified. For each enrolled patient, gender, age, mechanism of injury, trauma severity, neurologic deficit, injury levels, affected structures, treatment, radiographic follow-up, functional outcome (Cybex goniometer, neck disability index), and patient satisfaction (10 point visual analog scale) were recorded. RESULTS: Of 865 enrolled patients, 21 patients (2.4%) had 25 isolated TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine. The seventh vertebra was involved predominantly (76%). The initial treatment regimen was unrestricted movement in all patients. No associated adverse events were observed. A follow-up of 13 to 39 months was available in 14 patients. Follow-up showed a stable and intact subaxial cervical spine in all patients' radiographs, a patient satisfaction of 9.3 (SD 1.48), a Cybex measured range of motion in the sagittal plane of 109 degrees (SD 12.5, 95-129), the frontal plane of 70 (SD 17.8, 37-100) and the transverse plane of 144 (SD 12.5, 116-164), and a mean neck disability index score of 3.93 (SD 8.24). CONCLUSION: The incidence of isolated TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine was 2.4%. Unrestricted movement resulted in satisfying functional, anatomic, and neurologic outcomes without associated adverse events. This study confirms that isolated TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine can be considered as clinically insignificant and do not require treatment.
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