THE SIGNIFICANCE of swelling of the retropharyngeal soft tissues in the presence of fracture and/or dislocation of the cervical spine has been stressed by Heublein.1 But to our knowledge, swelling of the retropharyngeal soft tissues due to whiplash injury without radiographic evidence of fracture and/or dislocation has not previously been reported.
The "whiplash" injury is usually incurred from automobile accidents and is due to sudden deceleration. Nine cases of marked swelling of the retropharyngeal soft tissues due to whiplash injury comprise the major basis of this report.
Current analyses of roentgenograms of the cervical spine, whether by radiologists, neurosurgeons, or orthopedists, disregard all forms of swelling of the retropharyngeal and retrolaryngeal soft tissues. Their attention apparently has been focused on search for fractures and/or dislocation, some authorities attaching various degrees of significance to the cervical curve.
A brief review of the normal limits of soft tissue spaces of the neck
BIRSNER JW, LEASK WH. RETROPHARYNGEAL SOFT TISSUE SWELLING DUE TO WHIPLASH INJURY. AMA Arch Surg. 1954;68(3):369–373. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1954.01260050371015