A halo vest, also known as a halo crown or halo ring, is an orthopedic stabilizing device used to immobilize patients who suffer from cervical spinal injuries or diseases. It is designed to provide traction and support to the spinal column and inhibit any unwanted movement of or around the damaged or treated area. Developed in the 1950s, the halo vest has become a critical component for the treatment of spinal diseases and injuries.
The term "halo" refers to a circular metal ring that attaches to the patient's head by means of four metal pins, two on each side. After receiving local anesthetic, these pins are then fastened securely to the patient's head. The crown is connected by four metal rods to a snugly fitting vest that covers the patient's chest and abdomen, attached to shoulder straps. The vest itself is made of a rigid outer shell of plastic, well padded on the inside for comfort.
The main purpose of a halo vest is to immobilize the spine by restricting head, neck, and upper body movement. This allows for proper healing of the damaged or diseased spinal region. Prior to the development of the halo ring, patents were held immobile by being firmly strapped to their hospital bed. This treatment produced unavoidable side effects, such as bed sores, that complicated and lengthened the treatment and recuperation periods.
The halo vest effectively solved these problems by eliminating the need for patients to remain bedridden, while also maintaining stability and immobilization of the spinal column, head, neck, and torso. Application of a halo vest directly after spinal injuries allows for immediate support and traction. This greatly decreases recovery time and reduces the risk of complications, such as infections.
Patients may be fitted with a halo vest either as an alternative to surgery or as a post-operative means of stabilizing the treated area. In both cases, most patients wearing a halo vest experience very little discomfort while the device supports and provides traction to the spinal region. In all cases, the halo vest exerts constant force on the spinal region, which hastens the recuperation period, while also limiting movement of the affected area that would interfere with or prevent the healing process. Depending on the nature of the spinal injury or disease, patients may wear the halo vest for several months. Its adoption has greatly increased the success rate in the treatment of spinal column issues.