Anterior subluxation of the cervical spine, also known as hyperflexion sprain, is a ligamentous injury of the cervical spine.
Patients present with severe, focal neck pain. There may be neurological symptoms due to spinal cord injury.
Anterior subluxation of the cervical spine results from posterior ligamentous complex injury, however, there may be an associated posterior intervertebral disk injury and compression fractures of the anterior vertebral bodies 1-3.
Causes include motor vehicle collisions (most common), diving into shallow water, falls and direct trauma 3.
Plain radiograph / CT
- may be normal
- focal kyphosis at the site of ligament disruption
- helps to differentiate the condition from diffuse reversal of cervical lordosis
- increased interspinous distance
- concerned disk space shows reduced height anteriorly and increased height posteriorly
- mild anterolisthesis may be noted
MRI can demonstrate disruption of ligaments, including posterior longitudinal ligament, ligamentum flavum and interspinous ligaments:
- soft tissue edema is usually present: commonly in the interspinous space
- spinal cord edema may be seen: usually results from traumatic disk herniation rather than compression by bone
- 1. Green JD, Harle TS, Harris JH. Anterior subluxation of the cervical spine: hyperflexion sprain. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 1981;2 (3): 243-50. Pubmed citation
- 2. Torretti JA, Sengupta DK. Cervical spine trauma. Indian J Orthop. 2007;41 (4): 255-67. doi:10.4103/0019-5413.36985 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 3. W. R. Mower, C. M. Clements, J. R. Hoffman. Anterior subluxation of the cervical spine. (2016) Emergency Radiology. 8 (4): 194. doi:10.1007/PL00011902 - Pubmed
Related Radiopaedia articles
- fractures by location
- AO spine classification systems
cervical spine fracture classification systems
- AO classification of upper cervical injuries
- AO classification of subaxial injuries
- Anderson and D'Alonzo classification (odontoid fracture)
- Levine and Edwards classification (hangman fracture)
- Roy-Camille classification (odontoid process fracture )
- Allen and Ferguson classification (subaxial spine injuries)
- thoracolumbar spinal fracture classification systems
- three column concept of spinal fractures (Denis classification)
- classification of sacral fractures
- facet dislocation