Cervical fracture

A cervical fracture, commonly called a broken neck, is a fracture of any of the seven cervical vertebrae in the neck. Examples of common causes in humans are traffic collisions and diving into shallow water. Abnormal movement of neck bones or pieces of bone can cause a spinal cord injury resulting in loss of sensation, paralysis, or usually instant death.

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Medical condition
Cervical fracture
Other names Broken neck
A fracture of the base of the dens (a part of C2) as seen on CT.
Specialty Emergency medicine, neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery

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Execution by hanging is intended to cause death from a cervical fracture.

Considerable force is needed to cause a cervical fracture. Vehicle collisions and falls are common causes. A severe, sudden twist to the neck or a severe blow to the head or neck area can cause a cervical fracture.

Sports that involve violent physical contact carry a risk of cervical fracture, including American football, association football (especially the goalkeeper), ice hockey, rugby, and wrestling. Spearing an opponent in football or rugby, for instance, can cause a broken neck. Cervical fractures may also be seen in some non-contact sports, such as gymnastics, skiing, diving, surfing, powerlifting, equestrianism, mountain biking, and motor racing.

Certain penetrating neck injuries can also cause cervical fracture which can also cause internal bleeding among other complications.

Execution by hanging is intended to cause a fatal cervical fracture. The knot in the noose is placed to the left of the condemned, so that at the end of the drop, the head is jolted sharply upwards and to the right. The force breaks the neck, causing an immediate loss of consciousness and death within a few minutes.

Sagittal reconstruction of a CT scan showing a cervical fracture with dislocation at the level of C6/7
Teardrop fracture of C3 (sagittal CT)
Teardrop fracture of C3 (lateral X ray)

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