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Four hundred sixty-seven adult victims of blunt trauma undergoing cervical spine radiography (CSR) were prospectively studied to identify any clinical parameters which would aid in the selective application of CSR. Eight persons (1.7%), six of whom were alert and two who presented comatose, sustained cervical spine injuries. In this study, persons injured in falls demonstrated a statistically significant greater risk of cervical spine injury compared to those injured in motor vehicle accidents (p = 0.001). In alert trauma victims, a statistical correlation with cervical spine injury was noted for individuals who had complaints of neck discomfort (p = 0.028) and for patients who manifested tenderness to neck palpation (p = 0.000039). No cervical spine injury was noted in any alert, not intoxicated, neurologically intact patient who had no complaints of neck discomfort upon questioning or palpation. We conclude that alert trauma victims with no complaints of neck discomfort upon questioning and with no tenderness on neck palpation need not undergo CSR.

(C) Williams & Wilkins 1988. All Rights Reserved.