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Report by: Carel Kruger, Senior Clinical Fellow
Search checked by: Fiona Lecky, Senior Lecturer in Emergency Medicine
Institution: Salford Royal Hospital, Manchester, UK
A short-cut review was carried out to establish whether cervical spine protection is always necessary following penetrating neck injury. Six studies were directly relevant to the question. The author, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results and study weaknesses of these studies are shown in table 3. The clinical bottom line is that in stab wounds to the neck (with or without neurological deficit), an unstable spinal injury is very unlikely and c-spine immobilisation is not needed; in gunshot wounds the value of c-spine immobilisation is limited; and in the rare event of penetrating injury with combined blunt force trauma, a collar or sandbag is advised if possible.
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