A New Craniothoracic Mattress for Immobilization of the Cervical Spine in Critical Care Patients

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Abstract

Current immobilization techniques of the cervical spine are associated with complications including pressure ulcers, discomfort, and elevated intracranial pressures with limited access to the thorax and airway. In this study, a newly developed craniothoracic immobilizer (Pharaoh mattress) for critical care patients with cervical injury was tested for its restriction of cervical movement, peak interface pressures, comfort, and radiolucency, and compared with headblocks strapped to a spineboard. Cervical movement was measured by roentgen stereophotogrammetric analysis in 5 fresh frozen cadavers. Peak interface and discomfort pressures were measured in 10 healthy volunteers. Radiographic absorption was calculated by measuring the total emission radiation with and without immobilizer. The Pharaoh mattress caused a mean restriction of 59% (SD: 15) flexion–extension, 77% (SD: 14) lateral bending, and 93% (SD: 3) rotation, compared with the unrestricted situation. No significant differences in restriction of cervical movement were found between headblocks strapped to a spineboard and the Pharaoh mattress. The mean peak pressures on the Pharaoh mattress were significantly lower than on the spineboard. Healthy volunteers gave significantly lower numeric discomfort scores on the Pharaoh mattress than on the spineboard. The Pharaoh mattress absorbed more x-rays than the spineboard. The Pharaoh mattress provides similar restriction of cervical movement compared with headblocks strapped to a spineboard but with lower interface pressures and increased comfort. This new mattress could be useful for immobilization of the cervical spine in critical care patients with mechanically instable spinal fractures.

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