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October 1959

Brain Abscess and Osteomyelitis Following Skull Traction: A Report of Three Cases

Author Affiliations

Durham, N. C.
From the Departments of Surgery (Division of Neurosurgery) and Medicine, the Duke Medical Center and the Durham Veterans Administration Hospital.

AMA Arch Surg. 1959;79(4):638-641. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1959.04320100104019

Skeletal traction, obtained by attaching metal tongs to the skull, has been used in the management of fracture-dislocations of the cervical spine since 1933.1 This method of treatment has proved to be useful in reducing the dislocation as well as maintaining proper alignment of the spine during healing. The occurrence of infection due to the tongs does not appear to be a serious problem even though the traction device usually remains in the skull over a long period. Only one case could be found in a review of the literature. This was an instance of osteomyelitis of the skull which occurred in a patient who was being treated with skull traction for osteomyelitis of the cervical spine.2 Our own experience indicates that the incidence of septic complications is probably greater than the literature shows. During the period from January to November, 1958, we had occasion to treat three