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Facet dislocation (bilateral, cervical spine)

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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In bilateral facet dislocation both facets have dislocated and/or fractured. On X-ray the affected vertebral body is displaced by at least a half its length forwards.

Initial treatment centres around reduction of the dislocation. This can be achieved by heavy skull traction for a few hours. If the facets are locked this may fail. Manipulation under relaxation or open reduction from the back may be required.

Once the dislocation is reduced:

  • Traction may be continued for six weeks followed by a cervical collar for six weeks or...
  • A halo body cast may be worn for eight weeks or...
  • A posterior fusion may be performed followed by a cervical brace for eight weeks.

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