Evidence for the use of spinal collars in stabilising spinal injuries in the pre‑hospital setting in trauma patients: a systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • Institute of Inflammation and Ageing


Purpose Spinal collars were introduced in 1967 into the management of spinal trauma care as it was thought that this
technique of immobilisation would prevent any further neurological or spinal damage in high-risk patients. The aim of this
systematic review was to determine whether the use of spinal collars in the pre-hospital trauma patient was recommended
by published literature.
Methods A systematic search of the literature was conducted between 1990 and 2020, screening PubMed, Medline, Science
Direct and Google Scholar. The consequent findings were then qualitatively synthesised with the aim of effectively evaluating
the evidence to resolve the discrepancy between current practice and literature.
Results Of the nine eligible studies, six deemed that spinal collars should not be used in pre-hospital trauma patients with
the remaining three reporting uncertainty if spinal collars were best practice. Our results suggest that there is a discrepancy
between current guidance and practice in that although the guidelines recommend the use of spinal collars in the pre-hospital
setting the majority of the studies were against the use of spinal collars. Importantly, none of the studies reported any benefits
of spinal collars.
Conclusion Our study shows a disparity between current guidelines and the published literature and warrants further direct
research to obtain a more comprehensive view of the use of spinal collars in a pre-hospital setting.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Trauma and Emergency Surgery
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2020