The impact of a cervical collar on intracranial pressure in traumatic brain injury patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Naif Bazaie , Ibrahim Alghamdi, Naif Alqurashi, Zubair Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Purpose: Although the use of a cervical collar in the prehospital setting is recommended to prevent secondary spinal cord injuries and ensure spinal immobilization, it is not known what effects this has on raising intracranial pressure (ICP) in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. In the absence of studies measuring ICP in the prehospital setting, the aim of this study was to systematically review the data related to ICP changes measured after presentation at the hospital in patients who had arrived wearing cervical collars.

Methods: We searched Medline (PubMed), Embase, CINAHL, and Google Scholar for studies that investigated in-hospital ICP changes in TBI patients arriving at the hospital wearing collars. Titles, abstracts, and full texts were then searched for inclusion in the study. A narrative synthesis, as well as a meta-analysis, was performed.

Results: Of the 1006 studies identified, only three met the inclusion/exclusion criteria. The quality of the three included studies was moderate and the risk of bias was low. All three studies used the Laerdal Stifneck collar, but all studies showed an increase in ICP after application of the collar. A further three studies that measured ICP but did not fit the systematic search were also included due to low patient numbers. A meta-analysis of the pooled data confirmed a significant increase in ICP, although between the four studies, only 77 patients were included. The meta-analysis also confirmed that after removal of the collar, there was a significant decrease in ICP.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that the use of a cervical collar increases ICP in TBI and head injury patients, which may have detrimental effects. However, due to the extremely low sample size from all six studies, caution must be exercised when interpreting these data. Thus, further high-quality research is necessary to unequivocally clarify whether cervical collars should be used in patients with TBI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalTrauma Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2021


  • traumatic brain injury
  • cervical collars
  • intracranial pressure
  • prehospital


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