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Dynamic Intervertebral Foramen Narrowing During Whiplash

by Maak, Travis Gardner

Abstract (Summary)
A biomechanical study of intervertebral foraminal narrowing during simulated automotive head-forward and head-turned rear impacts. The objective of this study was to quantify foraminal width, height and area narrowing during head-forward and head-turned rear impacts, and evaluate the potential for nerve root and ganglion impingement. Muscle weakness and paresthesias, documented in whiplash patients, have been associated with neural compression within the cervical intervertebral foramen. Rotated head posture at the time of rear impact has been correlated with increased frequency and severity of chronic radicular symptoms, as compared to facing forward. No studies have quantified dynamic changes in foramen dimensions during head-forward or head-turned rear impacts. Six whole cervical spine specimens with muscle force replication and surrogate head underwent simulated whiplash at 3.5, 5, 6.5 and 8 g, following non-injurious baseline 2 g acceleration. Continuous dynamic foraminal width, height and area narrowing were recorded, and the peaks were determined during each impact and statistically compared to baseline narrowing. During head-forward rear impacts, significant increases (P<0.05) in average peak foraminal width narrowing above baseline were observed at C5-C6 beginning with 3.5 g impact. No significant increases in average peak foraminal height narrowing were observed, while average peak foraminal areas were significantly narrower than baseline at C4-C5 at 3.5, 5 and 6.5 g. During head-turned rear impacts, significant increases (P<0.05) in average peak foraminal width narrowing above baseline of up to 1.8 mm in the left C5-C6 foramen at 8 g were observed. Average peak dynamic foraminal height was significantly narrower than baseline at right C2-C3 foramen at 5 g and 6.5 g, while no significant increases in foraminal area were observed. Extrapolation of the present head-forward rear impact results indicated that the greatest potential for ganglia compression injury was at the lower cervical spine, C5-C6 and C6-C7. The present head-turned rear impact results indicated that the greatest potential ganglia compression injury exists at C5-C6 and C6-C7. Greater potential for ganglia compression injury exists at C3-C4 and C4-C5 due to head-turned rear impact, as compared to head-forward rear impact. Acute ganglia compression may produce a sensitized neural response to repeat compression leading to chronic radiculopathy following head-forward and head-turned rear impacts. Dynamic ganglion or nerve root compression may also lead to chronic radiculopathy.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Manohar Panjabi

School:Yale University

School Location:USA - Connecticut

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:intervertebral foramen whiplash rear impact radiculopathy ganglion spinal nerve roots

ISBN:

Date of Publication:11/15/2006

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