April 1986

Shoulder Harness Traction for Roentgenographic Assessment of the Cervical Spine

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Surgery, Trauma Services, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester.

Arch Surg. 1986;121(4):452-455. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1986.01400040090014

• We evaluated the clinical usefulness of a new shoulder traction device to facilitate a rapid complete cervical spine examination in an uncooperative patient population with multiple trauma. Forty-eight patients were randomly designated to receive the shoulder traction device or the standard technique (manual traction on the patient's upper extremities). Patient groups were equivalent in mean coma scale scores, trauma scores, age, and incidence of cervical fracture. Male-female ratios differed between groups, yet were biased against the harness technique. Fewer roentgenograms (lateral view) were required to visualize adequately all cervical vertebrae when the harness device was utilized (mean roentgenograms per patient, 1.2 vs 2.6; P<.01). Shoulder harness traction during roentgenographic evaluation of the cervical spine may be a useful method to promote visibility of the lower cervical vertebrae.

(Arch Surg 1986;121:452-455)