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Journal Article


Lomoschitz FM, Blackmore CC, Mirza SK, Mann FA. AJR Am. J. Roentgenol. 2002; 178(3): 573-577.


Department of Radiology, University of Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.

Comment In:

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2002 Nov;179(5):1346; dicussion 1346-7


(Copyright © 2002, American Roentgen Ray Society)






OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to describe types and distribution of cervical spine injuries in elderly patients in regard to causative trauma mechanism and patient age. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The distribution and type of 225 cervical spine injuries in 149 consecutive patients 65 years old and older over a 5-year interval were retrospectively assessed. For each patient, initial admission imaging studies were reviewed, and injuries were classified. Trauma mechanism (falls from standing or seated height vs higher energy mechanisms) and initial clinical and neurologic status were recorded. Data were correlated according to patients' age (65-75 years and >75 years) and causative trauma mechanism. RESULTS: Ninety-five (64%) of 149 patients had upper cervical spine injuries. Fifty-nine (40%) of 149 patients had multilevel injuries. Main causes for cervical spine injuries were motor vehicle crashes in "young elderly" (65-75 years old; 36/59, 61%) and falls from standing or seated height in "old elderly" (>75 years old; 36/90, 40%). Fracture patterns at risk for neurologic deterioration were common (>50%), even in the absence of acute myelopathy or radiculopathy. Patients older than 75 years, independent of causative mechanism, and patients who fell from standing height, independent of age, were more likely to have injuries of the upper cervical spine (p = 0.026 and p = 0.006, respectively). CONCLUSION: Cervical spine injuries in elderly patients tend to involve more than one level with consistent clinical instability and commonly occur at the atlantoaxial complex. Old elderly patients and patients who fall from standing height are more prone to injuries of the upper cervical spine.

Language: en


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