The Initial Assessment and Management of the Multiple-Trauma Patient With an Associated Spine Injury

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Study Design.

Review and summary of the relevant literature from multiple disciplines.


Provide the readership with evidence-based guidelines on the initial assessment and treatment of the multiple-trauma patient with an associated spinal column injury.

Summary of Background Data.

Early operative stabilization of the isolated spinal column injury has decreased hospital and intensive care unit length of stay. Early intervention has not provided consistently improved neurologic outcomes. The timing of spinal column stabilization in the multiple-trauma patient continues to be a source of discussion.


Review of published English literature from 1990 to present using key words: spinal trauma, multiple-trauma with spinal injury; timing of spinal injury treatment; spinal fracture management; and Advanced Trauma Life Support.


The treatment of the poly-trauma patient with an associated spinal column injury requires strict adherence to Advanced Trauma Life Support principles. Once life and limb-threatening injuries have been identified and addressed, spinal column assessment and neurologic protection must be maintained at the highest priority. Early spinal stabilization can be performed safely in the multiple-trauma patient in medical centers, in which medical and ancillary staff is available on a 24-hour basis and is familiar with these procedures.

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