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November 1957

Injuries of the Spinal Cord

Author Affiliations

U. S. A. F.

AMA Arch Surg. 1957;75(5):739. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1957.01280170049029

Potential spinal cord injury must be recognized at the scene of injury, and the patient moved in such a manner that the spine remains immobilized, if the possibility of converting a simple fracture into a permanent para- or quadriplegia is to be avoided. Traction and immobilization must be constant; and once the diagnosis is made, the patient should be placed on a rotating frame and traction by tongs instituted if appropriate. Prompt neurologic and roentgenographic examination will then define the seriousness of the situation by indicating the level and extent of bony injury and neurologic deficit. Physical examination must be complete enough to discover any concomitant intrathoracic or intra-abdominal trauma, as these may constitute a greater surgical emergency than the cord injury. An indwelling catheter should be placed in the bladder on admission unless the patient is able to void. A change in the neurologic status is of more diagnostic

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