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Emergency transport and positioning of young children who have an injury of the cervical spine. The standard backboard may be hazardous
JE Herzenberg; RN Hensinger; DK Dedrick; WA Phillips
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 1989 Jan 01;71(1):15-22
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In ten children who were less than seven years old, an unstable injury of the cervical spine was found to have anterior angulation or translation, or both, on initial lateral radiographs that were made with the child supine on a standard flat backboard. In all ten patients, extension was the proper position for reduction of the injury of the cervical spine. Young children have a large head in comparison with the rest of the body. When a young child is positioned on a standard backboard, the neck may be forced into relative kyphosis. Supine and upright lateral radiographs that were made of seventy-two children who did not have a fracture also demonstrated more relative cervical kyphosis in younger children when they were in the supine position. Calculations from anthropometric data documented disproportionate rates of growth of the head and the chest. The circumference of the head grows logarithmically, but the circumference of the chest grows linearly. This disproportionate growth causes young children to have a relatively large head. When they lie supine, the neck is flexed. To prevent undesirable cervical flexion in young children during emergency transport and radiography, a standard backboard can be modified to provide safer alignment of the cervical spine. This can be accomplished by the use of a recess for the occiput to lower the head or of a double mattress pad to raise the chest.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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