Upper cervical injuries: Clinical results using a new treatment algorithm

Andrei F. Joaquim*, Enrico Ghizoni, Helder Tedeschi, Alexandre R.D. Yacoub, Darrel S. Brodke, Alexander Vaccaro, Alpesh Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Introduction: Upper cervical injuries (UCI) have a wide range of radiological and clinical presentation due to the unique complex bony, ligamentous and vascular anatomy. We recently proposed a rational approach in an attempt to unify prior classification system and guide treatment. In this paper, we evaluate the clinical results of our algorithm for UCI treatment. Materials and Methods: A prospective cohort series of patients with UCI was performed. The primary outcome was the AIS. Surgical treatment was proposed based on our protocol: Ligamentous injuries (abnormal misalignment, facet perched or locked, increase atlanto-dens interval) were treated surgically. Bone fractures without ligamentous injuries were treated with a rigid cervical orthosis, with exception of fractures in the dens base with risk factors for non-union. Results: Twenty-three patients treated initially conservatively had some follow-up (mean of 171 days, range from 60 to 436 days). All of them were neurologically intact. None of the patients developed a new neurological deficit. Fifteen patients were initially surgically treated (mean of 140 days of follow-up, ranging from 60 to 270 days). In the surgical group, preoperatively, 11 (73.3%) patients were AIS E, 2 (13.3%) AIS C and 2 (13.3%) AIS D. At the final follow-up, the American Spine Injury Association (ASIA) score was: 13 (86.6%) AIS E and 2 (13.3%) AIS D. None of the patients had neurological worsening during the follow-up. Conclusions: This prospective cohort suggested that our UCI treatment algorithm can be safely used. Further prospective studies with longer follow-up are necessary to further establish its clinical validity and safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Craniovertebral Junction and Spine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Fractures
  • ligamentous injury
  • spinal cord injury
  • treatment
  • upper cervical injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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