What Equipment Might You See?

The equipment that will be used after a spinal injury will depend on how stable the vertebrae are and the level of the spinal cord injury. If you have any questions about the equipment or why it is being used, please ask the nurse or other healthcare team member.


Anti-Embolism Stockings (TEDs): White, elastic stockings used to prevent pooling of blood in the legs and help prevent blood clots.

Arterial Line:A catheter put into an artery that is used to measure blood pressure and to get blood for testing.

Cervical Collar:A foam or rigid plastic collar that provides support to the neck and limits neck motion. (Fig. 13-15)

Cervical Traction:This is used to pull the cervical vertebrae back into position. The goal is to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. A metal ring (Halo crown) or tongs are attached by pins to the skull. Weights are then attached for traction. Traction cannot repair injury already done to the spinal cord, but it helps to avoid further injury.

EKG Lead Wires:Wires connected to the chest with small patches that measure the heart rate and rhythm.

Endotracheal Tube:A tube inserted through the nose or mouth into the trachea (windpipe) to help with breathing and suctioning.

Fracture Bed:A bed that has one or two mattresses on it. It will be in a slightly tilted position, head higher than feet. This allows traction weights to hang from the bed.

Halo Vest:A fleece-lined, rigid vest can be applied depending on the injury. Patients can usually be out of bed once the halo vest has been applied. The halo vest keeps the neck bones in place while they heal. (Fig. 16) (Appendix IV for clothing suggestions).

Intravenous Catheter (IV) and Intravenous Fluids:A catheter placed into a vein for giving fluids and medicine.

Monitor:A machine that shows the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and blood oxygen levels.

Nasogastric/Feeding Tube:A tube placed through the nose into the stomach used to suction the stomach or to provide liquid food directly into the stomach.

Sequential Compression Stockings (SCD's or Kendall's):Plastic leg wraps that help prevent blood clots by inflating and deflating around the legs.

Urinary "Foley" Catheter:A tube placed into the bladder, used to drain and measure urine.

Ventilator:A machine used with an endotracheal tube to help with breathing.

Publication of this educational booklet is made possible in part by the generous support of the following sponsors:

  • Metronic
  • Stryker
  • DePuy Spine
  • Fraternal Order of Eagles