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Chiropractic Research Review

Plain Films Key to Catching Severe Cervical Injuries

Unilateral facet subluxation, or partial loss of congruity of joint surfaces, can be an outcome of automobile accidents, especially when whiplash-associated disorders are involved. It is important to note that patients with unilateral facet subluxation may not have any neurological deficit, and the lesion may be difficult to recognize on some plain films.

As a result, over 40% of unilateral facet subluxations receive delayed diagnosis.

In this article, the authors present a case report of facet subluxation and how another provider missed its diagnosis upon initial evaluation. The authors then use this case report as the basis for discussing guidelines that are available to provide doctors with possible management strategies.

Research pertaining to inadequate radiographic techniques for viewing certain injuries is also presented. The authors conclude with recommendations for appropriate radiographic procedures to assess whiplash patients, particularly those involved in accidents resulting in severe injuries.

Tuling JR, Hsu WH. Unilateral facet subluxations: an example of missed post-traumatic unilateral facet subluxation - a case report. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 1999:43(3), pp168-175. Reprints: Tel: (416) 781-5656; Fax: (416) 781-7344

Chiropractic Research Review

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