History of skeletal traction in the treatment of cervical spine injuries

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✓ Therapy of cervical spine fractures is reviewed from the time of the Egyptians (4000 B.C.) to the present day. Immobilization has been practiced for slightly more than a century; devices for exerting traction upon the skull have been in use for 37 years. The Renaissance surgeon, Fabricus Hildanus, designed a tool for exerting traction upon the cervical vertebrae, but this method did not become popular. Until the 20th century, few physicians considered the therapy of this common injury.

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Send reprint requests to: John D. Loeser, M. D., University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery, Seattle, Washington 98105.

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Figures

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    An illustration from the work of Fabricus Hildanus depicting the forceps and pin which he placed through the spinous process to reduce a fracture of the cervical spine.

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    Halter traction as used by Taylor to reduce a cervical spine fracture before immobilization in a plaster cast. (Reproduced by permission of the editor of Annals of Surgery.)

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    Left: The original skull tongs used in 1933 by Crutchfield to reduce a cervical spine fracture. Right: A 1938 form of Crutchfield tongs showing improvement in design and method of application. (Reproduced from A. E. Walker's A History of Neurosurgery, Baltimore: William and Wilkins, 1951, by permission of the publisher.)

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    Zygomatic hooks and spreader bar designed by Selmo.25 (Reproduced by permission of the editor of American Journal of Surgery.)

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    Detail of Hoen's method of exerting skeletal traction by passing a wire through two burr holes. (Reproduced by permission of the editor of Archives of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.)

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    Tongs designed by Barton.

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