Clinical and medicolegal characteristics of neck injuries
From: Coll Antropol. 2011 Sep;35 Suppl 2:187-90
The predominance in performing surgery of major spine injuries by neurosurgeons usually has the consequence of treating all types of spine injuries by neurosurgeons – neurotraumatologists. In the neurosurgical wards of Clinical Hospital Rijeka, the authors take care of the majority of these patients, following both the major, as well as minor whiplash injuries of the neck. The article overviews patients admitted in the one year period (October 1st 2009-October 1st 2010) where 1077 cases of neck injuries were analyzed. Vast majority of these injuries were due to traffic accidents (over 94%), and only a small proportion were serious injuries that needed a surgical approach decompression and stabilization (c1%). The authors analyzed minor neck injuries thoroughly both because of the increasing number of whiplash neck injuries and because more complicated diagnostic and therapeutic protocols occupy too much time in the ambulatory practice of neurotraumatologists each year thus representing a growing financial burden to the health organizations and to the society as a whole.
The results proved that the majority of the injured are male (over 60%), young and active (almost two thirds 21-40 years of age), had commonly sustained a Quebec Task Force (QTF) injury of grades 2 and 3 (almost 90%), and, if properly treated, recovered completely after a mean therapy period of ten weeks. Only a minority complained of prolonged residual symptoms, some of them connected with medico-legal issues (less than 20%). The results shown are in contrast with the general opinion that malingerers in search of financial compensation prevail in these cases, and leads to the conclusion that minor neck injuries (including whiplash) as well as Whiplash Associated Disorder are real traumatological entities, that have to be seriously dealt with.