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Cervical Spine Trauma in Children Homepage

This page was last updated on April 8th, 2024


Dominic Thompson, M.D.
Theodore Spinks, M.D.

Section Editor

Doug Brockmeyer, M.D.
Dominic Thompson, M.D.

Editor in Chief

Rick Abbott, M.D.


Although spine injuries are less common in children than in adults, children with spine trauma present with unique pathology that is distinct from adult injury patterns. Thus, focused training and management skills are required specifically for this population.

Key Points

  • The cervical spine is most common site for pediatric spine trauma: Approximately 2/3 of spinal column injuries in children occur in the cervical region.
  • Upper cervical spine trauma is more common in young children:Craniovertebral junction and upper cervical spine trauma is two to three times more common in children younger than 3 years compared with older children and adults.
  • Preadolescent children have aparticular risk for ligamentous injury: Fractures are more common in older children and young adults.
  • Use of diagnostic ionizing radiation should be minimized: Existing evidence-based guidelines should be followed in determining the need for x-ray and CT scans in children with cervical spine injuries.
  • Restoring alignment and immobilization are key: Most cervical spine injuries in children can be managed nonoperatively.