Franz Jooji Onishi, Jefferson Walter Daniel, Andrei Fernandes Joaquim, Alécio Cristino Evangelista, Eduardo de Freitas Bertolini, Fernando Rolemberg Dantas, Eloy Rusafa Neto, Marcelo Luiz Mudo, Roger Brock, Jerônimo Buzetti Milano, Ricardo Vieira Botelho

June 2022, pp 1 - 11 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07290-z

First Online: 28 June 2022


Traumatic facet dislocations in the subaxial cervical spine, also known as locked facets, are commonly associated with neurological deficits. The fear of the presence of an associated traumatic disc herniation and consequent neurological worsening usually causes a delay in the spinal realignment.

This study’s aim is an analysis of safety and efficacy when treating acute cervical traumatic facet dislocations using cranial-cervical traction or posterior open reduction and fixation in the presence of disc herniations.


Inclusion criteria addressed the following patient groups: (1) MRI diagnosis of traumatic cervical facet dislocations with disc herniation, (2) intervention: either cranial-cervical traction or posterior open reduction and fixation, (4) neurological outcomes after treatment, (5) adult 18 plus years of age, (6) sample sizes greater than 20 patients, (7) English language publication. The following databases and search tools were analyzed: MEDLINE (PubMed), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Google Scholar, and the clinical trial registries (, October 2021.


Six studies were found, 2 with posterior open reduction and fixation and 4 with cranial-cervical traction, totalizing 197 patients. Neurological worsening was reported only in 1 case (0.5%).


Traumatic disc herniation in cervical facet dislocations is not an absolute contraindication of cranial-cervical traction or posterior open reduction. Early realignment of the spine could bring more neurological benefits than waiting for an MRI or surgical discectomy. However, caution is needed in this review's data interpretation until prospective and well-designed studies are performed.

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