UpToDate: Cervical transverse process fracture

Cervical transverse process fracture

Cervical transverse process fractures have a strong association with other cervical spine fractures and blunt cerebrovascular injury 1).

With the advent of whole body computed tomography of trauma patients, the radiologic diagnosis of transverse process fractures (TPF) has increased. Spine service (neurosurgical or orthopedic) consultation is frequently requested for patients with these fractures, stressing constraints on these practices.

When TPF are identified, diligence in searching for a spine injury or abdominal injuries should be exercised, as these associated injuries occur frequently 2).

Isolated cervical transverse process fracture (TPF) of the subaxial cervical spine can be considered as clinically insignificant and do not require treatment 3)

Clinicians should maintain high indices of suspicion for associated injuries in patients with isolated transverse process fractures especially after high-velocity mechanisms 4).

1.- Fracture of the right transverse process of C2 involving the transverse foramen.

2.- Similar fracture passing through right transverse foramen of C3.

Vertebral artery angiography should be considered when patients with transverse process fractures extending into the transverse foramen develop signs and symptoms of vertebrobasilar disease 5).

A case report demonstrates the severity of injury after minor trauma in the context of ankylosing spondylitis, the capacity for full recovery in oesophageal perforations in spinal trauma, and that clinical suspicion of such injuries allows early diagnosistreatment and reduced complications6).

Case series

The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center patient database was queried (years 2005-2016) using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, code 805: fracture of the vertebral column without mention of spinal cord injury.

A total of 129 patients with isolated transverse process fractures (ITPFs) were identified. Mean age was 38.1 years (range 15-92 years). Women were more likely to present with abdominal pain and associated kidney injury (P = 0.018 and P = 0.012, respectively). Motor vehicle accident (MVA) was the most common mechanism of injury (n = 81, 62.8%) and was associated with thoracic (P = 0.032) and lower extremity pain/injury (P = 0.005). Back pain was the most common presenting symptom (n = 71, 64.6%) and was associated with intraabdominal and lower extremity injuries (P = 0.032 and P = 0.016, respectively). Chest and neck pain were associated with vascular injuries (P < 0.001 and P = 0.001, respectively). Spine consult (neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery) was frequent (n = 94, 72.9%) and was more common after MVA versus fall (P = 0.018).

Several factors were identified as significant markers of associated injuries, including female sex, MVA, and presenting symptoms. Neck and chest pain were significantly associated with vascular injuries. Clinicians should maintain high indices of suspicion for associated injuries in patients with ITPFs, especially after high-velocity mechanisms 7).


21 patients (2.4%) had 25 isolated TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine. The seventh vertebra was involved predominantly (76%). The initial treatment regimen was unrestricted movement in all patients. No associated adverse events were observed. A follow-up of 13 to 39 months was available in 14 patients. Follow-up showed a stable and intact subaxial cervical spine in all patients’ radiographs, a patient satisfaction of 9.3 (SD 1.48), a Cybex measured range of motion in the sagittal plane of 109 degrees (SD 12.5, 95-129), the frontal plane of 70 (SD 17.8, 37-100) and the transverse plane of 144 (SD 12.5, 116-164), and a mean neck disability index score of 3.93 (SD 8.24).

The incidence of isolated TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine was 2.4%. Unrestricted movement resulted in satisfying functional, anatomic, and neurologic outcomes without associated adverse events. This study confirms that isolated TPFs of the subaxial cervical spine can be considered as clinically insignificant and do not require treatment 8).


Patients for a retrospective, institutional review board-approved study were identified by reviewing the daily neurosurgical census from July 2004 to February 2007. Data were collected by chart review on all patients with TPF-grouped into isolated fractures (iTPF) and fractures with other associated spinal injuries (aTPF). Other parameters evaluated included fracture location, other spinal injuries, nonspinal injuries, mechanical stability, neurologic findings, pain, and treatment (surgical stabilization or decompression or bracing or both).

Eighty-four patients with one or more TPF were identified-47 with iTPF and 37 with aTPF. All iTPF and aTPF patients were found to be neurologically intact. No patients with iTPF required surgery or bracing for spinal stability, but 4 aTPF needed surgery and 18 aTPF required bracing with a total of 22 requiring neurosurgical intervention (p < 0.0001). However, none of these patients received treatment for the TPF. Twenty-five patients had associated abdominal injuries (16 of 46 iTPF, 9 of 37 aTPF, p = 0.3335).

iTPF are not associated with neurologic deficit or structural instability requiring spine service intervention. Therefore, conservative management without neurosurgical or orthopedic consultation is appropriate. When TPF are identified, diligence in searching for other spinal injuries or abdominal injuries should be exercised, as these associated injuries occur frequently 9).


In a retrospective study of 216 patients with cervical fractures evaluated by plain films and computed tomography, Woodring et al., found that transverse process fractures were common. Transverse process fractures were present in 24% of patients with cervical fractures and accounted for 13.2% of all cervical fractures. Cervical radiculopathy and brachial plexus palsy were present in 10% of patients with transverse process fractures. In 78% of transverse process fractures, CT scanning showed that the fracture extended into the transverse foramenVertebral artery angiography, performed in eight patients with fractures involving the transverse foramen, showed dissection or occlusion of the vertebral artery in seven (88%) instances. Two of these seven patients had clinical evidence of vertebral-basilar artery stroke. Vertebral angiography should be considered when patients with transverse process fractures extending into the transverse foramen develop signs and symptoms of vertebrobasilar disease 10).


A 66 year old man fell backwards from the first rung of a ladder sustaining a cervical transverse process fracture of C6 vertebral body and a new diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. He was taken for surgical fixation, however his oesophagus was discovered entrapped within the fracture at the time of surgery. Despite the severity of the injury, with surgical reduction, fixation and oesophageal exclusion this patient made a full recovery.

This case demonstrates the severity of injury after minor trauma in the context of ankylosing spondylitis, the capacity for full recovery in oesophageal perforations in spinal trauma, and that clinical suspicion of such injuries allows early diagnosistreatment and reduced complications11).


A 40-year-old building and construction male worker who slipped and fell on an iron rod that resulted in penetrating wound on the right side of the anterior neck a week prior to presenting at our facility. He pulled out the iron rod immediately. Computer tomography angiography (CTA) done revealed C2-C4 transverse process fractures on the right side and a fracture at the right lamina of C3 and right common carotid artery dissection with stenosis. He was successfully treated with stenting via endovascular approach.

Richard et al., adopted the view that patient should never pull out objects that result in Penetrating neck injuries (PNI) because of complex neurovascular architecture of the neck. The mortality rate of the patient will have doubled if the iron rode penetrated the common carotid artery. The gold standard treatment option for carotid artery dissection and stenosis is endovascular approaches 12).

References

1)

Green NE, Swiontkowski MF. Skeletal Trauma in Children: Expert Consult – Print and Online, 4e. Saunders. ISBN:1416049002.
2) , 9)

Bradley LH, Paullus WC, Howe J, Litofsky NS. Isolated transverse process fractures: spine service management not needed. J Trauma. 2008 Oct;65(4):832-6; discussion 836. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e318184d30e. PubMed PMID: 18849799.
3) , 8)

Schotanus M, van Middendorp JJ, Hosman AJ. Isolated transverse process fractures of the subaxial cervical spine: a clinically insignificant injury or not?: a prospective, longitudinal analysis in a consecutive high-energy blunt trauma population. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2010 Sep 1;35(19):E965-70. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181c9464e. PubMed PMID: 20479701.
4) , 7)

Bui TT, Nagasawa DT, Lagman C, Jacky Chen CH, Chung LK, Voth BL, Beckett JS, Tucker AM, Niu T, Gaonkar B, Yang I, Macyszyn L. Isolated Transverse Process Fractures and Markers of Associated Injuries: The Experience at University of California, Los Angeles. World Neurosurg. 2017 Aug;104:82-88. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2017.04.137. Epub 2017 Apr 28. PubMed PMID: 28461275.
5) , 10)

Woodring JH, Lee C, Duncan V. Transverse process fractures of the cervical vertebrae: are they insignificant? J Trauma. 1993 Jun;34(6):797-802. PubMed PMID: 8315673.
6) , 11)

Vonhoff CR, Scandrett K, Al-Khawaja D. Minor trauma in ankylosing spondylitis causing combined cervical spine fracture and oesophageal injury. World Neurosurg. 2018 Jul 30. pii: S1878-8750(18)31658-9. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2018.07.180. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 30071342.
12)

Richard SA, Zhang CW, Wu C, Ting W, Xiaodong X. Traumatic Penetrating Neck Injury with Right Common Carotid Artery Dissection and Stenosis Effectively Managed with Stenting: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. Case Rep Vasc Med. 2018 Jun 10;2018:4602743. doi: 10.1155/2018/4602743. eCollection 2018. PubMed PMID: 29984035; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6015681.

UpToDate: Cervical total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Cervical total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion

Findlay et al., from London and Edinburgh, researched for cervical total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion.

Databases including Medline, Embase, and Scopus were searched. Inclusion criteria involved prospective randomized control trials (RCTs) reporting the surgical treatment of patients with symptomatic degenerative cervical disc disease. Two independent investigators extracted the data. The strength of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) criteria. The primary outcome measures were overall and neurological success, and these were included in the meta-analysis. Standardized patient-reported outcomes, including the incidence of further surgery and adjacent segment disease, were summarized and discussed.

A total of 22 papers published from 14 randomized control trials (RCTs) were included, representing 3160 patients with follow-up of up to ten years. Meta-analysis indicated that TDR is superior to ACDF at two years and between four and seven years. In the short-term, patients who underwent TDR had better patient-reported outcomes than those who underwent ACDF, but at two years this was typically not significant. Results between four and seven years showed significant differences in Neck Disability Index (NDI), 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) physical component scores, dysphagia, and satisfaction, all favouring TDR. Most trials found significantly less adjacent segment disease after TDR at both two years (short-term) and between four and seven years (medium- to long-term).

TDR is as effective as ACDF and superior for some outcomes. Disc replacement reduces the risk of adjacent segment disease. Continued uncertainty remains about degeneration of the prosthesis. Long-term surveillance of patients who undergo TDR may allow its routine use 1).


Cervical total disc replacement (TDR) has been shown in a number of prospective clinical studies to be a viable treatment alternative to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) for symptomatic cervical degenerative disc disease. In addition to preserving motion, evidence suggests that cervical TDR may result in a lower incidence of subsequent surgical intervention than treatment with fusion.

One reason for this trend is the observation that in clinical studies, patients with a history of cervical arthrodesis seem to have a higher incidence of adjacent segment degeneration 2) 3) 4).

Furthermore, in biomechanical investigations, most authors have reported an increase in the segmental range of motion (ROM) and the intradiscal pressure (IDP) in the levels proximal and distal to a simulated mono- or bisegmental arthrodesis 5) 6) 7) 8) 9) 10) 11) 12) 13) 14).

While anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF) has been the standard of care for 2-level disease, a randomized clinical trial (RCT) suggested similar outcomes.

There are also critical debates regarding the long-term effects of heterotopic ossification (HO) and the prevalence of adjacent-level degeneration.

1)

Findlay C, Ayis S, Demetriades AK. Total disc replacement versus anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. Bone Joint J. 2018 Aug;100-B(8):991-1001. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.100B8.BJJ-2018-0120.R1. PubMed PMID: 30062947.
2)

Goffin J, Geusens E, Vantomme N, Quintens E, Waerzeggers Y, Depreitere B, et al. Long-term follow-up after interbody fusion of the cervical spine. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2004;17:79–85. doi: 10.1097/00024720-200404000-00001.
3)

Gore DR, Sepic SB. Anterior discectomy and fusion for painful cervical disc disease: a report of 50 patients with an average follow-up of 21 years. Spine. 1998;23:2047–2051. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199810010-00002.
4)

Hilibrand AS, Carlson GD, Palumbo MA, Jones PK, Bohlman H. Radiculopathy and myelopathy at segments adjacent to the site of a previous anterior cervical arthrodesis. J Bone Joint Surg. 1999;81-A:519–528.
5)

Chang U-K, Kim DH, Lee MC, Willenberg R, Kim S-H, Lim J. Changes in adjacent-level disc pressure and facet joint force after cervical arthroplasty compared with cervical discectomy and fusion. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007;7:33–39. doi: 10.3171/SPI-07/07/033.
6)

Chang U-K, Kim DH, Lee MC, Willenberg R, Kim S-H, Lim J. Range of motion change after cervical arthroplasty with ProDisc-C and Prestige artificial discs compared with anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007;7:40–46. doi: 10.3171/SPI-07/07/040.
7)

DiAngelo DJ, Foley KT, Morrow BR, Schwab JS, Song J, German JW, et al. In vitro biomechanics of cervical disc arthroplasty with the ProDisc-C total disc implant. Neurosurg Focus. 2004;17(E7):44–54. doi: 10.3171/foc.2004.17.3.7.
8)

DiAngelo DJ, Robertson JT, Metcalf NH, McVay BJ, Davis RC. Biomechanical testing of an artificial cervical joint and an anterior plate. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2003;16:314–323. doi: 10.1097/00024720-200308000-00002.
9)

Dmitriev AE, Cunningham BW, Hu N, Sell G, Vigna F, McAfee PC. Adjacent level intradiscal pressure and segmental kinematics following a cervical total disc arthroplasty. An in vitro human cadaveric model. Spine. 2005;30:1165–1172. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000162441.23824.95.
10)

Eck JC, Humphreys SC, Lim T-H, Jeong ST, Kim JG, Hodges SD, et al. Biomechanical study on the effect of cervical spine fusion on adjacent-level intradiscal pressure and segmental motion. Spine. 2002;27:2431–2434. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200211150-00003.
11)

Fuller DA, Kirkpatrick JS, Emery SE. A kinematic study of the cervical spine before and after segmental arthrodesis. Spine. 1998;23:1649–1656. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199808010-00006.
12)

Park D-H, Ramakrishnan P, Cho T-H, Lorenz E, Eck JC, Humphreys SC, et al. Effect of lower two-level anterior cervical fusion on the superior adjacent level. J Neurosurg Spine. 2007;7:336–340. doi: 10.3171/SPI-07/09/336.
13)

Pospiech J, Stolke D, Wilke HJ, Claes LE. Intradiscal pressure recordings in the cervical spine. Neurosurgery. 1999;44:379–384. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199902000-00078.
14)

Ragab AA, Escarcega AJ, Zdeblick TA. A quantitative analysis of strain at adjacent segments after segmental immobilization of the cervical spine. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2006;19:407–410. doi: 10.1097/00024720-200608000-00006.

UpToDate: Dynamic Cervical Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Dynamic Cervical Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Dynamic MRI is useful to determine more accurately the number of levels where the spinal cord is compromised, and to better evaluate narrowing of the canal and intramedullary high-intensity signal (IHIS) changes. New information provided by flexion-extension MRI might change our strategy for CSM management 1).

Imaging of the cervical spine in functional positions has so far been limited to conventional Cervical spine x ray examinations or the scarcely available open magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI compatible positioning device allows MRI examinations in various positions and even in motion. In combination with high-resolution T2-weighted MRI it allows detailed functional imaging of the cervical spine and nerve roots.

The combination of a mechanical positioning device and a high-resolution 3D T2-weighted sequence (SPACE) on a conventional 1.5 T MRI allows kinematic imaging of the cervical spine as well as high-resolution imaging in the end positions, even in the presence of metal implants. In this proof of concept study a good visualization of narrowing of the spinal canal in functional positions could be achieved, showing the potential of MRI in functional positions for clinical and research applications 2).

The Dynamic Cervical Magnetic Resonance Imaging demonstrated a major number of findings and spinal cord compressions compared to the static exam. The dynamic exam is able to provide useful information in these patients, but Nigro et al., suggested a careful evaluation of the findings in the extension exam since they are probably over-expressed 3).

It is useful in correlating symptoms with the dynamic changes only noted on dMRI, and has reduced the incidence of misdiagnosis of myelopathy4).

In a study of Pratali et al., Dynamic cervical MRI was obtained using a standard protocol with the neck in neutral, flexion, and extension positions. The morphometric parameters considered were anterior length of the spinal cord (ALSC), posterior length of the spinal cord (PLSC), spinal canal diameter (SCD) and spinal cord width (SCW). Two observers analyzed the parameters independently, and the inter- and intra-observer reliabilities were assessed by the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC).

18 patients were included in the study and all completed the dynamic MRI acquisition protocol. The inter- and intra-observer reliabilities demonstrated “almost perfect agreement” (ICC > 0.9, p < 0.001) for ALSC and PLSC in all positions. The SCD had inter- and intra-observer reliability classified as “almost perfect agreement” (ICC: 0.83-0.98, p < 0.001 and ICC: 0.90-0.99, p < 0.001, respectively) in all positions. The SCW had inter- and intra-observer reliability classified as “substantial agreement” (ICC: 0.73-0.94, p < 0.001 and ICC: 0.79-0.96, p < 0.001, respectively) in all positions. ALSC and PLSC in neutral, flexion and extension positions from the present study were significantly greater compared to the measurements previously published (P < 0.001).

The dynamic MRI protocol presented was safe and may allow a more complete evaluation of variations in the cervical spine in patients with CSM than traditional MRI protocols. The morphometric parameters based on this protocol demonstrated excellent inter- and intra-observer reliabilities 5).

References

1)

Zhang L, Zeitoun D, Rangel A, Lazennec JY, Catonné Y, Pascal-Moussellard H. Preoperative evaluation of the cervical spondylotic myelopathy with flexion-extension magnetic resonance imaging: about a prospective study of fifty patients. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2011 Aug 1;36(17):E1134-9. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181f822c7. PubMed PMID: 21785299.

2)

Gerigk L, Bostel T, Hegewald A, Thomé C, Scharf J, Groden C, Neumaier-Probst E. Dynamic magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical spine with high-resolution 3-dimensional T2-imaging. Clin Neuroradiol. 2012 Mar;22(1):93-9. doi: 10.1007/s00062-011-0121-2. Epub 2011 Dec 23. PubMed PMID: 22193978.

3)

Nigro L, Donnarumma P, Tarantino R, Rullo M, Santoro A, Delfini R. Static and dynamic cervical MRI: two useful exams in cervical myelopathy. J Spine Surg. 2017 Jun;3(2):212-216. doi: 10.21037/jss.2017.06.01. PubMed PMID: 28744502; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5506301.

4)

Kolcun JP, Chieng LO, Madhavan K, Wang MY. The Role of Dynamic Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy. Asian Spine J. 2017 Dec;11(6):1008-1015. doi: 10.4184/asj.2017.11.6.1008. Epub 2017 Dec 7. Review. PubMed PMID: 29279758; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5738303.

5)

Pratali RR, Smith JS, Ancheschi BC, Maranho DAC, Savarese A, Nogueira-Barbosa MH, Herrero CFPS. A Technique for Dynamic Cervical Magnetic Resonance Imaging Applied to Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy: A Reliability Study. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2018 Jun 26. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002765. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 29952883.
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