Ch. 16 - Spinal injuries Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Ch. 16 - Spinal injuries Deck (35)
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What group is most commonly affected by spinal injuries?

Adolescents and young adult males


What is the major cause of spinal injuries?

Road traffic accidents


What is the most frequent type of injury to the cervical spine?

Flexion and flexion-rotation injuries


Cervical spine: Flexion and flexion-rotation injuries are most common at what level? Stable or unstable?


Unstable 2/2 extensive posterior ligamentous damage


Cervical spine: Compression fractures are most common at what level? Stable or unstable?


STABLE b/c posterior bony elements and longitudinal ligaments are intact


Cervical spine: What is a 'tear drop' fracture?

Compression injury combined with rotation force leads to separation of small anteroinferior fragment from vertebral body = UNSTABLE


Cervical spine: Hyperextension injuries are most common in what population? Stable or unstable?

Older age groups and patients with degenerative spinal canal stenosis

STABLE but anterior longitudinal ligament is damaged


Cervical spine: What is the most common neurologic impairment following hyperextension injury?

Central cervical cord syndrome 2/2 cord compression b/w degenerated disc and osteophytes anteriorly and thickened ligamentum flavum posteriorly


Thoracolumbar spine: Flexion-rotation injuries are most common at what level? Stable or unstable?

T12/L1 resulting in anterior dislocation of T12 on the L1 vertebral body (which usually sustains a wedge compression fracture)

UNSTABLE 2/2 posterior longitudinal ligament and posterior bony element disruption


Thoracolumbar spine: Flexion-rotation injuries usually result in what neurological deficits?

Complete deficit of either spinal cord, conus, or cauda equina


Thoracolumbar spine: Compression fractures are stable or unstable?

STABLE without neurological damage


Thoracolumbar spine: Hyperextension injuries cause damage to what structures? Stable or unstable?

Very uncommon

Rupture of anterior longitudinal ligament, intervertebral disc, and fracture through vertebral body anteriorly



What are chance fractures?

High-speed accident while wearing lap belts w/o shoulder harness leads to HYPERFLEXION injury to thoracolumbar spine causing:

fracture through spinous process pedicle and vertebral body OR
fracture through end-plate with disruption of facet join and ligaments


What are open injuries?

Stab injuries or gunshot wounds causing cord damage from blast injury, vascular damage +/- cord penetration


What is 'spinal shock'? How long does it last?

Transient depression in segments caudal to cord lesion immediately after severe injury 2/2 sudden withdrawal of excitatory influence from supraspinal centers -> AREFLEXIC FLACCID PARALYSIS

Duration varies: 3-4 days or up to 6-8 wks


What is complete transverse myelopathy?

All neurological function is absent below level of lesion, including autonomic function


Differentiate UMN vs. LMN signs

UMN - loss of voluntary function, increased muscle tone, hyperreflexia

LMN - reduced muscle tone, wasting, loss of reflexes


What autonomic deficits can be expected for patients with complete cervical or high thoracic lesions?

If lesion is above T5 may develop hypotension (sympathetic splanchnic vasomotor control outflow interrupted)

Thermal dysregulation develops without appropriate vasoconstriction/dilatation mechanisms


What is anterior cervical spinal cord syndrome?

Compression of anterior aspect of cord causes damage to corticospinal and spinothalamic tracts -> motor paralysis and loss of pain/temp below lesion


What is central spinal cord syndrome?

2/2 hyperextension injury causing cord compression b/w degenerated disc and osteophytes anteriorly and thickened ligamentum flavum posteriorly -> more UE than LE weakness


What is Brown-Sequard syndrome?

Hemisection of spinal cord - ipsilateral paralysis below level of lesion with loss of pain, temperature, and touch on contralateral side


What is spinal cord concussion?

Transient loss of function with recovery within 6 -48 hrs


What are the general principles of spinal injury management?

Prevent further injury, reduction and stabilization of bony injuries, prevent complications, rehab


Identify the fractures

A. Chance fracture through vertebral body and pedicle

B. Chance fracture through facet join and ligament


What imaging should you obtain in suspected cervical spine injury?

Plain c-spine radiographs or CT; if no abnormality, repeat x-rays in flexion and extension (to exclude instability 2/2 ligament damage)


What technique is used for restoration of normal spinal column alignment?



What are indications for surgical intervention in spinal cord injury patients?

1. Spine stabilization (most common)

2. Progression of neurologic deficit (absolute indication!)

3. Partial neurological injury with failure to improve

4. Open injuries


What GI complications can arise in acute spinal cord paralysis?

Paralytic ileus, acute gastric dilatation, peptic ulcer


What happens with bladder function during spinal shock?

Flaccid paralysis includes the bladder -> acute retention with overflow incontinence


Jefferson's fracture

Bilateral fractures of posterior arch of atlas from direct vertical blow to head (head presses down on spinal colum and atlas is squeezed b/w occipital condyles above and axis below)