Outcome of Cervical Near-Hanging Injuries

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Cervical near-hangings are not rare, but have received little attention in the trauma literature. Increasing numbers of patients received from our local jail and detention centers prompted this study.


Seventeen-year review of a level I Trauma Center Registry identified 67 patients with cervical strangulation for study. Data were analyzed using the Mann-Whitney test to evaluate continuous predictors, and Fisher's exact test for categorical predictors.


Ten of 67 patients died (14.9% mortality). Patients having a lower Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) at the scene (3.5 +/- 1.3 vs. 8.3 +/- 5.0; p = 0.001) and lower GCS in the emergency department (ED) (3.0 +/- 0.0 vs. 9.0 +/- 5.3; p < 0.001) were more likely to die. Injuries consisted predominantly of neck abrasions and anoxic brain injuries (83% mortality). Laryngeal fractures and carotid arterial injuries were detected. No cervical spine fractures were seen, but subluxations were identified. Forty-two percent of the patients were in detention centers when the near-hanging incident occurred.


Cervical near-hangings are referred to the Trauma Service for evaluation. Scene or ED GCS of 3 does not preclude neurologically intact survival, although mortality is high. In our study, the most useful prognostic factors were the need for airway control by intubation or cricothyrotomy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, lower scene and ED GCS, and cerebral edema on CT Scan. Optimal evaluation includes head and neck CT and CT angiography of the neck. We plan to share these results with local authorities and encourage improvement in risk identification, with earlier involvement of mental health personnel.

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