The opinions of orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons were compared regarding appropriate management of selected cervical injuries and the timing of stabilization.
To determine whether there is consistency of opinion regarding the management of cervical trauma.
Summary of Background Data.
Numerous forms of management for cervical trauma exist, but there are few consistent recommendations. No previous study has been done to determine uniformity of preferences of the surgeons who manage these injuries.
Thirty-one orthopedic surgeons and neuro-surgeons were given a brief clinical situation and pertinent radiographic studies of five selected cervical injuries. Management options included halo and nonhalo orthoses, traction, and various forms of anterior and/or posterior procedures. The surgeons rated, in whole numbers from 1 to 10, their opinions on the appropriateness of each technique. Each surgeon was given a case of a "generic" cervical injury, in which stabilization was required and for which preoperative alignment was adequate in traction. They gave opinions on the timing of stabilization, with a choice of four time frames. Four neurologic situations were rated, ranging from intact to complete cord injury.
Of 46 possible responses to the five test cases regarding appropriateness, 18 ranged from 1 to 10, the largest possible variation. Only 2 had a range of 5 or less, implying better consensus among tested surgeons. Mean values ranged from 1.9 to 9.5. Agreementamong respondents regarding appropriateness was slight with a range of κ statistics from 0.09 to 0.14. Of 16 possible responses regarding timing, 14 were within a range of 8 or higher. Within 24 to 72 hours was the generally preferred time frame, with all possible responses showing a range of 3 or 4. Results of a multiple analysis of variance showed no significant differences among respondents.
There is a large variety of opinion regarding appropriateness of specific operative and nonoperative management procedures and surgical timing among the surgeons polled who manage cervical trauma. This implies that there is no widely accepted standard management procedure for many of these injuries.