Alessandro Ramieri, Maurizio Domenicucci, Paolo Cellocco, Jacopo Lenzi, Demo Eugenio Dugoni, Giuseppe Costanzo


October 2014, Volume 23, Issue 6, pp 658 - 663 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-014-3560-z

First Online: 09 September 2014

Introduction

Cervical subaxial malalignment due to complete or partial post-traumatic dislocation is generally associated to neurological impairment of ranging severity. Literature lacks reporting this entity in patients with no neurological issues. Cervical traction is not widely accepted in treating this kind of injury, due to its potential for neurological damage, although surgery seems to represent the gold standard.

Materials and methods

We studied in detail 18 cervical subaxial severe dislocations and ptosis, especially analyzing 2 personal cases plus 5 from the literature without neurological impairment. We discuss the role of pre-operative cervical traction and its influence on the overall surgical planning and outcome.

Results

Sixteen cases of anterior complete luxation were described in detail by literature. Five patients were reported having no associated neurological impairment and three were treated by pre-operative traction. Our two cases of cervical subaxial dislocation due to bi-pedicular fractures without neurological deficits were treated by traction and surgical fixation.

Conclusions

Subaxial bi-pedicular fracture is a highly unstable condition of the cervical spine. Complete or incomplete dislocation requires instrumented fixation. An intact neurological status is very rare. Pathological canal enlargement seems to be able to protect the spinal cord, during trauma and/or traction. For these findings, cervical traction could be applied with no excessive worrying. We prefer a progressive traction up to 20 lb, administered in 7–10 days with no intubation and close neuro-vascular status monitoring. Good pre-operative realignment can be properly achieved in the majority of cervical dislocations, thus avoiding three-stage surgery and somatectomy.


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