What Is Halo Vest?

Halo vest consists of a halo and vest. Halois a ring that is encircles the head and is fixed to it by means of pins that are inserted in the head. It is also known as “halo ring” or “halo crown,”.

Halo vest is used in management of cervical spine diseases where spine needs external stabilization. Halo ring part of halo vest can be used to put traction on the cervical spine or to provide external support and immobilization. In the latter case the ring is attached to a brace that encircles patient’s torso and the whole assembly is termed as halo vest.

halo vestImage Credit: http://radiographics.rsna.org/content/24/1/257/F36.large.jpg

The concept of was first brought out in late 1950s. Before this only method to effectively restrict cervical spine mobility was traction in recumbent position.

By attaching  the halo to a device worn around the patient’s torso, complications of recumbency like bed sores and chest infection can be avoided.

The Assembly

A ring is fixed to patient’s head by means of screws and the ring is attached to  rigid, lightweight vest that fits snugly around the patient’s chest.

This way the apparatus can provides spinal stability while allowing the mobility.

Halo vest offers following advantages over the traditional traction system

  • Precise positional control
  • Efficient external stabilization of the cervical spine
  • Low complication rate
  • Minimal patient discomfort,
  • Early patient mobilization.

Where Can Halo Vest Be Used?

Halo vest can be used in following situations in cervical spine injuries or other pathologies that affect stability of spine

  • To stabilize spine for treatment with non operative means
  • In adjunct with a surgical procedure to provide additional stability
  • In follow up to patients who were treated initially with skeletal traction.

How Is Halo Vest Applied

Four pins that are equally space are placed in the skull two  over the ridge of the orbit and one each just behind the ear. The halo ring is fixed to these pins.

Following this vest is applied to the torso and connected with adjustable metal rods to halo ring. After the assembly is in place radiographs are taken to check position of cervical spine ad if any change need to be made.

A neurological examination is made after application of halo vest.

The duration of application varies depending upon the nature of injury and purpose for which halo vest is applied.

The assembly is well tolerated by most of the patients.

Patients are regularly followed up with series of radiographs that were performed initially to ensure adequate positioning and stabilization of the cervical spine.  In addition, the physician will do a complete neurological assessment of the patient and tighten all of the hardware on the halo vest.

A neural examination is also done at the follow up visits.

Complications of Halo Vest

Pin loosening is by far the most common of the potential complications. This happens for around 60% of patients. This can be avoided by early detection of  loosening at weekly follow-up visits.

Infection at the pin sites is another complication that occurs 10-20% of patients. In case of infection of a pin tract, the pin is removed and another pin is placed in a new site.

Secondary loss of reduction may occur due to “snaking” mechanism of the cervical spine between the supine and upright positions . This phenomenon may not adversely affect the healing of upper cervical spine fractures that are inherently stable and where large cancellous bone surfaces offer a chance for relatively rapid bony consolidation.

But for this  reason, however, inherently unstable fractures with small bony contact surface may not be effectively immobilized with a halo.


Halo vest applications offer the most stable form of external immobilization of the upper cervical spine. In contrast to bracing, a halo vest assembly allows for some fracture manipulation and correction of malreduction. If a halo vest assembly is correctly placed, neck motion can be expected to be limited to 4% of normal flexion-extension, 4% of lateral bending, and 1% of rotation.

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  1. Rosa León says

    Hola, Necesito con urgencia un halo-chaleco… por favor diganme donde conseguirlo, para adultos.. Gracias..

  2. Dr Arun Pal Singh says

    @Rosa León,

    Google translated your query as
    Hi, I need urgently a halo-vest … please tell me where to get it for adults .. Thanks ..

    Here is my reply

    Halo vest is usually made by an orthotist. Please consult your doctor for more on this service in your area

    This again is translated from my original reply

    Chaleco de Halo se hace generalmente por un ortopedista. Por favor consulte a su médico para más información sobre este servicio en su área

  3. Rosa León says

    Buenas noches ,gracias por su información, el aparato es para mi sobrina y ya tenemos el informe médico; en el cual sugiere de urgencia dicho aparato ya que ella tiene fractura en la clavicula y la cervical. Se le agradece mucho si conoce algun lugar donde se pueda mandar hacer, debido a que aquí en Caracas-Venezuela se ha agotado el producto.

  4. Dr Arun Pal Singh says

    @Rosa León,

    You said as per Google Translation

    Good evening, thank you for your information, the device is for my niece and we have the medical report, in which emergency suggests that device because she has fractured clavicle and neck. Thank you much if you know any place where it could have made, because here in Caracas, Venezuela has run the product.

    Here is my reply

    If the product is not available in your vicinity, you may want to talk to your doctor for alternative suggestions. I think that would be the best option.

    Google translates my answer like this
    Si el producto no está disponible en su localidad, es posible que desee hablar con su médico para obtener sugerencias alternativas. Creo que sería la mejor opción

  5. john dowlen says

    My skull was crushed twice during the application of the halo. What is the proper torque of the 4 screw?

  6. rochel piedad says

    i ii need a halo vest for my husband i am from the phillippines.how can i get it with less money because right now i am still financially not capable of buying it hope you can give me a website that donates a halo vest.i do really need your help.


  1. […] Halo Vest Halo immobilization has become a less popular form of treatment for lower cervical spine injuries as the better internal fixation techniques have been developed. Despite this, halo vest immobilization remains a viable, minimally invasive method of stabilization of unstable cervical spine injuries for patients who might otherwise have contraindications to open surgical methods. […]

  2. […] — A day after her lawyer released photos of Cong. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wearing a halo vest, her camp revealed that a company has offered to help her on her crusade to get […]

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