Reduction of radiation exposure in pediatric patients with trauma: Cephalic stabilization improves adequacy of lateral cervical spine radiographs

Afif N. Kulaylat, Joshua G. Tice, Moran Levin, Allen Kunselman, Sosamma Methratta, Robert Cilley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Introduction: Plain radiographs continue to play a role in cervical spine clearance. Inadequate radiographs commonly necessitate repeat x-rays or computed tomography imaging (10× radiation dose). We have used the technique of cephalic stabilization (CS) to improve the results of plain radiographs. Cephalic stabilization lateral radiographs are obtained, with one assistant applying traction to the arms while another placing fingers in the patient's ears and stabilizing the head. This study tests the hypothesis that CS improves visualization of the cervicothoracic junction during lateral cervical spine radiographs. Methods: A 2-year review of institutional pediatric trauma registry identified 46 patients with CS, matched 1:3 with controls. Randomized lateral radiographs were evaluated independently by 2 pediatric radiologists to determine adequate visualization of the craniocervical and cervicothoracic junctions. Reviewers were blinded to CS through image cropping. Results: The proportion of adequate visualization of the cervicothoracic junction was 0.85 for cases with stabilization and 0.60 for controls. Odds of obtaining adequate visualization with stabilization are 3.8 times those without stabilization (P =.001) and were even greater for patients younger than 13 years. Conclusions: Cephalic stabilization improves visualization of the cervicothoracic junction in lateral cervical spine radiographs and can reduce radiation exposure in patients who would otherwise require further imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)984-990
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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