Spinal Trauma

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Ms. J.B. is a 72-year-old grocery store owner who broker her neck in a motor vehicle accident in Fremont, California.  She was diagnosed with a fracture of the second cervical vertebra and was at risk for paralysis because of spinal instability (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. CT scan of neck. "x" is to the left of the fracture site.
Double "x" indicates spinal cord.

The patient was placed in a Halo device to stabilize the spine by the local neurosurgeon (Figure 2). The fracture was not healing in the Halo (Figure 3) and the patient was referred to Dr. McCormack for treatment.

Figure 2. Example of Halo device

Figure 3. X-ray of neck of the patient in a halo.  "x" is placed at the left of the gap where the fracture was not healing.


Dr. McCormack performed screw fixation of the fracture in a one-hour operation using a two-inch incision on the front of the neck and specialized equipment (figure 4). 

Figure 4. Specialized equipment in the operating room to guide screw fixation of the fracture.

Figure 5. X-ray showing screw fixation of the fracture.

The Halo was removed and the patient was placed in a soft collar for only 6 weeks. The fracture was successfully healed.

Patient Comment

"When they told me I broke my neck and I had to be in a Halo Vest for three months, I couldn’t believe it.  When I wasn’t healing my neurosurgeon and local Health Maintenance Organization were helpful in getting me to Dr. McCormack.  I was only hospitalized one day because the operation didn’t hurt. What can I say, he saved my life!"