SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SIMON FRASER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Fractured spine. Coloured magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan showing a fractured spine of a 81-year-old woman. This is a severe fracture, the seventh cervical (neck) vertebra (C7) becoming completely dislocated (centre). The spinal cord in the neck has become compressed (red) under the pressure of the protruding bone. If the cord is severely injured or cut or torn in half, there will be a sudden drop in blood pressure resulting from a sudden loss of nerve supply to the entire body (including the heart and lungs). This is termed "spinal shock". Surgery is often considered as the best treatment option for a broken neck, though the procedure is complicated and recovery can be slow.
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