Does the novel lateral trauma position cause more motion in an unstable cervical spine injury than the logroll maneuver?

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Abstract

Objective:

Prehospital personnel who lack advanced airway management training must rely on basic techniques when transporting unconscious trauma patients. The supine position is associated with a loss of airway patency when compared to lateral recumbent positions. Thus, an inherent conflict exists between securing an open airway using the recovery position and maintaining spinal immobilization in the supine position. The lateral trauma position is a novel technique that aims to combine airway management with spinal precautions. The objective of this study was to compare the spinal motion allowed by the novel lateral trauma position and the well-established log-roll maneuver.

Methods:

Using a full-body cadaver model with an induced globally unstable cervical spine (C5-C6) lesion, we investigated the mean range of motion (ROM) produced at the site of the injury in six dimensions by performing the two maneuvers using an electromagnetic tracking device.

Results:

Compared to the log-roll maneuver, the lateral trauma position caused similar mean ROM in five of the six dimensions. Only medial/lateral linear motion was significantly greater in the lateral trauma position (1.4 mm (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.4, 2.4 mm)).

Conclusions:

In this cadaver study, the novel lateral trauma position and the well-established log-roll maneuver resulted in comparable amounts of motion in an unstable cervical spine injury model. We suggest that the lateral trauma position may be considered for unconscious non-intubated trauma patients.

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