Child Protection Evidence - Spinal injuries

Child Protection Evidence is a resource available for clinicians across the UK and internationally to inform clinical practice, child protection procedures and professional and expert opinion on the legal system. This systematic review evaluates the literature on abusive and non-abusive spinal injuries.

About the review

This systematic review evaluates the scientific literature on spinal injuries published up until November 2014.

It aims to answer the following clinical question:

  • What are the clinical and radiological characteristics of physically abusive spinal injuries?

This review aims to characterise abusive spinal injury and the associated radiological features.

Since both musculoskeletal and spinal cord injuries are included, the studies were identified and reviewed during the systematic reviews for fractures and neurological injuries. Therefore, the review uses the methodology and tools used in both the fractures and neurological injury.

The review divides the findings into the features of abusive spinal injury, by location into cervical and thoracolumbar sections and then discusses spinal imaging.

The implications for practice and research, and other useful references are included in the review.

Key messages

  • Exciting new data relating to ligamentous injury in the cervical spine of infants subjected to abusive head trauma is a worthwhile addition to the previous literature.
  • Further new data has been published relating to the yield of spinal imaging on skeletal survey.

Disclaimer: This is a summary of the systematic review findings up to the date of our most recent literature search. If you have a specific clinical case, we strongly recommend you read all of the relevant references as cited and look for additional material published outside our search dates

Original reviews and content © Cardiff University, funded by NSPCC
Published by RCPCH July 2017

While the format of each review has been revised to fit the style of the College and amalgamated into a comprehensive document, the content remains unchanged until reviewed and new evidence is identified and added to the evidence-base. Updated content will be indicated on individual review pages.