This news is of grave importance to physicians in general. A study from Baylor College of Medicine claims that the use of a cervical collar on a trauma patient may cause more injury to the person. This may result in secondary injuries or even death.
The study authors replicated dissociative injuries, injuries in which there seems to be a division between two segments in the neck owing to a damaged ligament, in nine cadavers. They then utilized the cervical collars based on regular Emergency Medical Services procedure. By means of a range of imaging technologies, it was supposedly discovered that using the cervical collar appeared to have caused an atypical augmented disconnection between the vertebrae at the injury level.
Dr. Dr. John Hipp, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at BCM and senior author of the paper, commented, “Cervical extrication collars are put on about 15 million times a year in the United States alone by emergency medical personnel or doctors in hospitals to protect the cervical spine in case of a bad injury. It is known that after a person has a bad injury, you can create a secondary injury very easily. We have discovered that the cervical collar, in the case of a really bad injury, not only doesn’t protect the spine but can actually make things a lot worse.”
Dr. Peleg Ben-Galim, assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at BCM, and lead author of the study, mentioned, “We found that the cervical collar tends to pull the head away from the torso, which can create a separation and lead to secondary injury.”
These secondary wounds may result in quadriplegia or even death. Hipp is of the opinion that more studies are required to observe whether a different stabilization technique could aid in evading this disconnection between the vertebrae.
The study was published in the Journal of Trauma.