Posterior stabilization of subaxial cervical spine trauma: Indications and techniques

Paul M. Arnold, Mark Bryniarski, Joan K. McMahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of instrumentation for stabilization following cervical trauma has evolved rapidly in the past few decades. Nonoperative maneuvers, including traction, extended bed rest, and cast immobilization, have given way to wiring or screw rod constructs that allow immediate fixation and early mobilization of the patient. These procedures can be performed soon after trauma and with a minimum of surgical risk. They offer immediate stability of the injured spine, and can prevent the sequelae of acute cervical spinal cord injury that may accompany prolonged bed rest, thus allowing early rehabilitation and the potential for improved recovery. Current techniques for posterior cervical spine stabilization following trauma include spinous process or facet wiring [1-9], lateral mass plating [10-18], and cervical pedicle screws [19-27]. Several radiological tools, including MRI [28] and reformatted CT, yield precise details of the injured spine and allow the treating physician to determine which, if any, fixation technique offers the best chance of recovery with the least amount of risk. The goals of surgery following acute cervical spine injury include decompressing the injured spinal cord or nerve root, maintaining alignment, providing stability to the spine, promoting healing and fusion, and allowing early mobilization. This article will review indications for posterior cervical spine surgery, as well as the techniques that are currently available to help achieve the above-noted goals. We also report a recent retrospective review of 5-year data in treating posterior cervical trauma with lateral mass and pedicle screw fixation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S36-S43
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cervical spine
  • Posterior cervical surgery
  • Spine fracture
  • Spine trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Posterior stabilization of subaxial cervical spine trauma: Indications and techniques'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this