Emerg Med J 18:51-54 doi:10.1136/emj.18.1.51
  • Original Article

The use of the spinal board after the pre-hospital phase of trauma management

  1. D Vickery
  1. Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Department of Accident and Emergency Medicine, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Great Western Road, Gloucester GL1 3NN, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Mr Vickery, Consultant in Accident and Emergency Medicine (davidvickery{at}
  • Accepted 4 September 2000


Objectives—For pre-hospital spinal immobilisation the spinal board is the established gold standard. There are concerns that its subsequent use in hospital may adversely affect patient outcome. This review examines the effect of prolonged patient immobilisation on the spinal board.

Methods—A database search of the literature and review of relevant trauma texts. Results—Complications associated with the use of the spinal board were found in five clinically relevant categories: pressure sore development; inadequacies of spinal immobilisation and support; pain and discomfort; respiratory compromise; and quality of radiological imaging.

Conclusion—The spinal board should be removed in all patients soon after arrival in accident and emergency departments, ideally after the primary survey and resuscitation phases.


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    Among patients with minor TBI (GCS 13-15) getting CT scans ≥ 24 hours after injury, what proportion have a traumatic finding?


    0.5% - 43% response rate
    3% - 41% response rate
    10% - 16% response rate

    Related original article: PCT head imaging in patients with head injury who present after 24 h of injury: a retrospective cohort study

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