Spine and spinal cord injuries—causes and complications

Joanna Rosińczuk-Tonderys, Rafał Załuski, Małgorzata Gdesz, Aleksandra Lisowska
Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine: Official Organ Wroclaw Medical University 2012, 21 (4): 477-85

BACKGROUND: The spine as a motor organ is very often exposed to the action of forces released by an injury. The most frequent cause of spine and spinal cord injuries are traumas which are the result of accidents, and untreated osteoporosis or neoplasms as well.

OBJECTIVES: Aim of the study is an analysis of the causes of spine and spinal cord injuries as well as of the complications of these injuries.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The material covers 130 patients hospitalized due to spine injury in 2008-2010 at the Clinical Department of Neurosurgery of Wroclaw Medical University. The data has been obtained on the basis of an analysis of medical and nursing documentation.

RESULTS: In the research group, men (64%) prevail over women (36% of the respondents). Most often, spine injuries affected patients aged over 60. Spine injuries without spinal cord injury comprised 84.6%, whereas with spinal cord injury only 15.4%. About 75% of the examined patients were admitted to the department as emergency admissions, within the time exceeding 12 hours since an injury occurrence (58.5%). The vast majority of patients (80%) were treated surgically. After completing treatment, most of the respondents were discharged (71.5%). After leaving the hospital, over half of the patients (52.3%) were not able to move on their own.

CONCLUSIONS: The most common causes of spine injuries in patients are pathologic injuries (28.5%), traffic collisions (27.7%) and falls from heights (20.0%). To the largest degrees, spine injuries concerned the thoracic segment (in 34.6%), cervical segment (32.3%) and lumbar (23.8%). Complications occurring after spine injuries included pain of a damaged spine segment (61.1%), pain in other location (36.6%) and gastroenterological complications (17.6%). In the case of complications after spine and spinal cord injuries, gastroenterological complications predominate (in 42.9% patients) along with complications of the urinary system (38.1%) and pain of the injured spine segment (38.1%).

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