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February 1958

Hyperextension Injuries of the Cervical Spine

Author Affiliations

Winston-Salem, N. C.

From the Section on Neurosurgery, Department of Surgery, Bowman Gray School of Medicine of the Wake Forest College.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;79(2):146-150. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340020026006

The somewhat unusual, but by no means rare, occurrence of a severe injury to the cervical spinal cord without roentgenographic evidence of recent trauma to the cervical spine has perplexed physicians for many years. The common explanation that there had been a dislocation of the body of one vertebra on another with subsequent spontaneous reduction, although generally accepted, was not entirely satisfactory. The fact that the usual postmortem examination does not include examination of the spinal cord, much less the bony cervical spine, does not contribute to a better understanding of the problem.

The publications of Taylor and Blackwood in 1948,1 Barnes in 1948,2 and Taylor in 19513 lead to at least a partial, and certainly a plausible, solution of the question. They demonstrated in clinical case reports and in postmortem studies that extreme hyperextension of the cervical spine, particularly of a cervical spine already affected by

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