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Pathologic Evaluation of the Cervical Spine Following Surgical and Chiropractic Interventions

Authors

  • Evan W. Matshes M.D., F.R.C.P.C.,

    1. University of Calgary, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, 1403 – 29th Street NW, Calgary, AB T2N 2TN, Canada.
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  • Jeffrey Joseph M.D., Ph.D

    1. University of Calgary, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, 1403 – 29th Street NW, Calgary, AB T2N 2TN, Canada.
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Additional information and reprint requests:
Evan Matshes, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
University of Calgary
Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
1403 ? 29th Street NW
Calgary, AB T2N 2TN
Canada
E-mail: matshes@academicfp.com

Abstract

Abstract:  When patients die after chiropractic or surgical interventions of the cervical spine, pathologists tasked with the autopsy are frequently overwhelmed by the complicated anatomy, laborious dissections, complex operative procedures and surgical hardware, and the necessity to differentiate artifacts from trauma and disease. However, abundant data can be obtained from careful evaluation of the cervical spine in situ; extensive postmortem diagnostic imaging procedures; detailed dissections of the removed, formalin-fixed and decalcified spine; and histology. This study presents a regimented, stepwise approach to the evaluation of the cervical spine in these difficult cases, promotes uniform assessment, facilitates diagnoses, and supports the accumulation of otherwise hard-to-come-by reference material that can be of value in future cases. The resultant detailed autopsy findings may prove useful in the medico-legal death investigation process. Autopsy findings may also be of great value to health care providers involved in quality assurance processes.

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