Assessing and Clearing the Cervical Spine

Authors: Jules Blackham, Jason M Kendall, Roland Watura / Editor: Jason B Lee / Reviewer: Emma Everett, Joe Schrieber / Codes: Published: 11/10/2021

Cervical spine immobilisation is the most commonly performed procedure in pre-hospital care; it is not benign: it is associated with raised intracranial pressure in patients with head injury, pressure sores and impairment of respiratory function. Reliable and expedient strategies, clinical and/or radiological are required to exclude significant cervical spine injury.

After completing this session you will be able to:

  • Describe the pathophysiology of cervical spine injury
  • Link mechanism of injury to anatomical injury
  • Perform a clinical assessment to exclude significant cervical spine injury
  • Use appropriate clinical decision rules to exclude significant injury
  • Recognise when radiological imaging is required to exclude significant injury
  • Plan an appropriate imaging strategy for an individual patient
  • Manage a patient with a potential cervical spine injury


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