Background: Patients who have sustained a spinal cord injury remain at risk for further neurologic deterioration until the spine is adequately stabilized. To our knowledge, no study has previously addressed the effects of different bed-to-operating room table transfer techniques on thoracolumbar spinal motion in an instability model. We hypothesized that the conventional logroll technique used to transfer patients from a supine position to a prone position on the operating room table has the potential to confer significantly more motion to the unstable thoracolumbar spine than the Jackson technique.
Methods: Three-column instability was surgically created at the L1 level in seven cadavers. Two protocols were tested. The manual technique entailed performing a standard logroll of a supine cadaver to a prone position on an operating room Jackson table. The Jackson technique involved sliding the supine cadaver to the Jackson table, securing it to the table, and then rotating it into a prone position. An electromagnetic tracking device measured motion—i.e., angular motion (flexion-extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation) and linear translation (axial, medial-lateral, and anterior-posterior) between T12 and L2.
Results: The logroll technique created significantly more motion than the Jackson technique as measured with all six parameters. Manual logroll transfers produced an average of 13.8° to 18.1° of maximum angular displacement and 16.6 to 28.3 mm of maximum linear translation. The Jackson technique resulted in an average of 3.1° to 5.8° of maximum angular displacement (p < 0.001) and 4.0 to 10.0 mm of maximum linear translation (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: Compared with the logroll, the Jackson-table transfer method provides superior immobilization of an unstable thoracolumbar spine during transfer of supine cadavers to a prone position on the operating room table.
Clinical Relevance: This study addresses in-hospital patient safety. Performing the Jackson turn requires approximately half as many people as required for a manual logroll. This study suggests that the Jackson technique should be considered for supine-to-prone transfer of patients with known or suspected instability of the thoracolumbar spine.