Axial compression injuries of the cervical spine occur during contact sports, automobile collisions, and falls. The objective of this study was to use flexibility tests to determine biomechanical instability of the cervical spine due to simulated axial compression injuries.
We hypothesized that the axial compression injuries cause severe biomechanical instability throughout the cervical spine.
Materials and methods
The injuries were simulated using 2.4m/s head-first impacts of a cadaveric cervical spine model (n=10) mounted horizontally to a torso-equivalent mass on a sled and carrying a surrogate head in protruded posture. Intact and post-impact flexibility tests were performed up to 1.5, 3, and 1.5Nm in flexion-extension, axial torque, and lateral bending, respectively. Instability parameters of range of motion (RoM) and neutral zone (NZ) were determined for injured spinal levels and statistically compared (P<0.05) between intact and post-impact.
The sagittal instability parameters indicated extension-compression injuries at the upper and middle cervical spine and flexion-compression injuries at the lower cervical spine. Increases in extension RoM were 14.9° at the upper cervical spine and 24.9° (P<0.05) at the middle cervical spine and in flexion RoM at C7/T1 were 25.6°. RoM and NZ increases in axial rotation and lateral bending were nearly symmetric among left and right.
Multidirectional instability of the upper cervical spine caused by atlas and dens fractures was evidenced by increases between 36% and 53% in RoM and NZ due to the impacts. The sagittal RoM of injured spinal levels of the middle and lower cervical spine exceeded a proposed threshold for clinical instability by between 67% and 114%. The instability documented throughout the cervical spine was consistent with clinical observations of cord injuries and paralysis in patients.
Level of evidence
Level IV, controlled laboratory investigation.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : Axial compression, Head-first impact, Instability, Cervical spine injury, Biomechanics