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Hidden flexion injury of the cervical spine

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This paper describes seven patients who developed late vertebral deformity after flexion injuries of the cervical spine. In four the clinical and radiological features were subtle and because the patients walked into an emergency department the severity of the injury was not initially appreciated. Certain specific clinical and radiological features of flexion injury are described and emphasis is placed on the importance of correct management. A radiological tetrad is described which should alert the surgeon to the possibility of damage to the posterior interspinous complex of the cervical spine and so lead to further radiological investigations. Despite the frequency of flexion injuries the alarming complications described in this paper are rare.

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