K. Nibu, J. Cholewicki, M. M. Panjabi, L. B. Babat, J. N. Grauer, R. Kothe, J. Dvorak

March 2005, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 286 - 289 Innovation Read Full Article 10.1007/BF01322455

First Online: 03 March 2005

Clinical signs of whiplash are presently not well understood. Vertebral artery (VA) stretch during trauma is a possible pathomechanism that could explain some aspects of the whiplash symptom complex. This study quantified the VA elongation during whiplash simulation using an in vitro model. Seven fresh human cadaveric specimens (occiput to C7 or TI) were carefully dissected, preserving the osteoligamentous structures. The right VA was replaced with a thin nylon-coated flexible cable. This cable was fixed at one end to the occipital bone and at the other end to a specially designed VA transducer. Physiological motion of the occiput and physiological elongation of the VA were measured with a standard flexibility test. Next the specimen was mounted on a specially designed sled and subjected to 2.5, 4.5, 6.5, and 8.5 g (1 g = 9.81 m/s2) horizontal accelerations. Elongation of the VA was continuously recorded from the start of the trauma. The average (standard deviation) physiological VA elongation was 5.8 (1.6) mm in left lateral bending and 4.7 (1.8) mm in left axial rotation. Flexion and extension did not result in any appreciable elongation of the VA. The maximum VA elongation during the whiplash trauma significantly correlated with the horizontal acceleration of the sled (R 2 = 0.7,P < 0.05). The VA exceeded its physiological range by 1.0 (2.1), 3.1 (2.6), 8.9 (1.6), and 9.0 (5.9) mm in the 2.5-, 4.5-, 6.5-, and 8.5-g trauma classes respectively.

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