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General management of spinal injuries

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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In accidents where spinal injury is a possibility the patient should be moved as little as possible. If movement is undertaken - to move the patient out of danger, to establish an airway or to deal with life-threatening haemorrhage (ABC) - it should be done in such a way as to not allow intervertebral movements to take place. In general rotational movements appear to be more dangerous than flexion or extension.

Ambulance crews will carry spinal boards, Ked splints and hard cervical collars. They will immobilise the patients spine with these devices before moving the patient if at all possible.

General care of the face, tracheal tube, chest, abdomen, bladder and skin is important. All fractures should be splinted until the priorities have been decided. Special attention should be given to patients with cord damage to prevent pressure sores and bladder complications.

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