Subaxial cervical spine trauma

Eric Feuchtbaum, Jacob Buchowski, Lukas Zebala

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Subaxial cervical spine trauma is common and an often missed diagnosis. Accurate and efficient diagnosis and management is necessary to avoid devastating complications such as spinal cord injury. Several classification schemes have been devised to help categorize fractures of the subaxial spine and define treatment algorithms. The Subaxial Cervical Spine Injury Classification System (SLIC) is widely used and evaluates not only fracture morphology but also considers ligamentous injury and neurological status in surgical decision making. However, interobserver reliability is poor, which proves to be the defining pitfall of this tool. More modern classification systems have been developed, which aim to improve the interobserver reliability; however, further large-scale studies are needed for more definitive evaluation. Overall, treatment of subaxial cervical spine injuries should include a protocol with initial trauma evaluation, leading to expedient operative intervention if indicated. Surgical techniques include both anterior and posterior approaches to the cervical spine depending on fracture classification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-504
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Classification system
  • Fracture
  • Ligamentous injury
  • Subaxial cervical spine trauma


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