Cervical spine collar

Last revised by Amanda Er on 25 Jul 2022

Cervical spine collars are a form of spine orthoses, typically used to immobilize the cervical spine of patients who are thought to be at risk of unstable spine injury (e.g. due to a motor vehicle accident). 

Practical points

Cervical spine collars are often utilized for trauma patients, and their presence (best seen on CT scout images/scanograms) indicates that there is a possibility of unstable cervical spine trauma. The collar is removed only if the CT is reported as negative, whilst for a select few patients with clinico-radiological discrepancy or equivocal findings, further assessment with MRI is necessary. 

An important caveat is patients not wearing a cervical spine collar during the exam, but having potentially unstable cervical spine injury. In this case, it is crucial to communicate this to the referring clinician immediately, to begin immobilization and prevent further complications 1.  


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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: occipital condyle fracture
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  • Case 2: Type III odontoid fracture
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  • Case 3: normal pediatric study
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  • Case 4: on scout image
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  • Case 5: C3 undisplaced fracture
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  • Case 6: cervical spine collar as artefact
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