A surgeon and USC fan posted this pertinent information on WeAreSC in regards to the possibilities regarding Stafon Johnson’s neck injury:
First of all — the thing that every ER doctor and Surgeon is most concerned about — is airway compromise. If there is any possibility at all that the injury will cause difficulty breathing — an endotracheal tube is put in, or an emergency tracheostomy is done. It just doesn’t make any sense at all to take any chances, since it only takes a few minutes of not breathing to cause permanent damage.
Second — while CT scans and MRI’s are fine and dandy — if there is any question at all about significant damage, a neck exploration is the absolute best thing to do. This is a little bit more true for penetrating injury than for blunt injury — but nothing beats being able to inspect every last structure in the neck yourself.
Third — If there has not been any brain damage from having the airway compromised, as a general rule people with blunt neck injury will make a complete recover. Now they may take some time recovering from surgery, and they may have a temporary tracheostomy, but they will recover.
Fourth — the thing after the airway that would cause the most concern is the carotid arteries. Blunt injury to those arteries can cause what’s called intimal flaps that can cause clots and strokes. This is probably not the case with the injury mechanism described, but it is a concern anyway.
Fifth — if we discover that Stafon has had a neck exploration and found to have a fractured thyroid cartilage and has a tracheostomy — it means his surgeons have probably did a superb job taking care of him, and he should make a rapid recovery.