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Cervical spine clearance in the elderly: do elderly patients get a bad deal?
  1. M A Edwards1,
  2. J Verwey1,
  3. S Herbert1,
  4. S Horne1,2,
  5. J E Smith1,2
  1. 1Emergency Department, Plymouth NHS Trust, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, Devon, UK
  2. 2Academic Department of Military Emergency Medicine, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr M A Edwards, Emergency Department, Plymouth NHS Trust, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, Devon PL6 8DH, UK; mattedwards{at}


Objective To investigate whether elderly patients, presenting following trauma and requiring immobilisation and imaging of the cervical spine, require increased use of CT and spend longer immobilised when compared to the younger population.

Methods A retrospective chart review was undertaken of 35 adults aged 18–65 years, and 32 adults over 65 years, requiring cervical spine imaging following trauma.

Results 1 of the 35 younger patients, and 16 of the 32 elderly patients, underwent CT. Elderly patients spent 1:05 h longer immobilised (p<0.005).

Conclusions Half of the elderly patients underwent CT, and they were immobilised for significantly longer than younger patients. Measures should be adopted to facilitate early diagnosis and mitigate complications of prolonged immobilisation in elderly patients with neck trauma.

  • accidental falls
  • Trauma, spine and pelvis
  • fractures and dislocations
  • imaging, CT/MRI
  • imaging, x-ray

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