This short cut review in the Best Bets format attempted to answer the question: “is cervical spine protection always necessary following penetrating neck injury?”
From the available evidence they draw the following conclusions:
- In stab wounds to the neck (with or without neurological deficit) an unstable spinal injury is very unlikely and c-spine immobilisation is not needed
- In gunshot wounds the value of cspine immobilisation is limited: for gunshot wounds without neurological deficit no immobilisation is required, while in cases of gunshot wounds with neurological deficit, or where the diagnosis cannot be made (ie, altered mental status), a collar or sandbag is advised once ABCs are stable, with close observation and intermittent removal to inspect and reassess.
- In the rare event of penetrating injury with combined blunt force trauma, a collar or sandbag is advised if possible, once ABCs are stable, with intermittent removal to reassess.
Emerg Med J. 2009 Dec;26(12):883-7
Full text at BestBets.org