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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Neurological Disorders Channel
Reported July 1, 2011

Internal Decapitation -- Research Summary

BACKGROUND: Internal decapitation occurs when the ligaments connecting the skull to the spine are severed due to severe head trauma. Typically, the head is only held in place by the skin and spinal cord. Any movement could cause injury to the spinal cord and result in devastating neurological consequences or even death. Internal decapitation is five-times more common in children than it is in adults.

SURGERY: In order to fix internal decapitation, a neurologist may implant a titanium loop in the neck/head to reattach the base of the skull to the spine. A piece of the patient's rib may be removed and used to hold the rod in place.

SURGERY AFTERMATH: Although most patients who endure severe head trauma and internal decapitation have severe neurological damage, some will have a full recovery with no brain damage or neurological issues. In some cases, the patient will have full neurological function but will lack the ability to move the head in any direction. The surgery itself is very high risk and could result in paralysis, neurological damage or even death. After the surgery, patients have to be careful with their movement. One hard hit or fall could end in paralysis or death.


Craig Boerner, National News Director
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN
(615) 322-4747


Carmelle Malkovich
Public Relations
St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center
Phoenix, AZ
(602) 406-3319

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