Cervical spine movement during airway management: cinefluoroscopic appraisal in human cadavers. Academic Article uri icon


  • The objective of this study was to determine which airway maneuvers cause the least cervical spine movement. A controlled laboratory investigation was performed in a radiologic suite, using eight human traumatic arrest victims who were studied within 40 minutes of death. All subjects were ventilated by mask and intubated orally, over a lighted oral stylet and flexible laryngoscope, and nasally. Cinefluoroscopic measurement of maximum cervical displacement during each procedure was made with the subjects supine and secured by hard collar, backboard, and tape. The mean maximum cervical spine displacement was found to be 2.93 mm for mask ventilation, 1.51 mm for oral intubation, 1.65 mm for guided oral intubation, and 1.20 mm for nasal intubation. Ventilation by mask caused more cervical spine displacement than the other procedures studied (ANOVA: F = 9.298; P = .00004). It was concluded that mask ventilation moves the cervical spine more than any commonly used method of endotracheal intubation. Physicians should choose the intubation technique with which they have the greatest experience and skill.

publication date

  • January 1, 1991