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Factors predictive of survival and estimated years of life lost in the decade following nontraumatic and traumatic spinal cord injury.

Spinal Cord 2017 June
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective chart review.

OBJECTIVES: To identify factors predictive of survival after spinal cord injury (SCI).

SETTING: Tertiary care institution.

METHODS: Multiple-variable Cox proportional hazards regression analysis for 759 patients with SCI (535 nontraumatic and 221 traumatic) included age, sex, completeness of injury, level of injury, functional independence measure (FIM) scores, rehabilitation length of stay and SCI cause. Estimated years of life lost in the decade after injury was calculated for patients vs uninjured controls.

RESULTS: Median follow-up was 11.4 years. Population characteristics included paraplegia, 58%; complete injury, 11%; male sex, 64%; and median rehabilitation length of stay, 16 days. Factors independently predictive of decreased survival were increased age (+10 years; hazard ratio (HR (95% CI)), 1.6 (1.4-1.7)), male sex (1.3 (1.0-1.6)), lower dismissal FIM score (-10 points; 1.3 (1.2-1.3)) and all nontraumatic causes. Metastatic cancer had the largest decrease in survival (HR (95% CI), 13.3 (8.7-20.2)). Primary tumors (HR (95% CI), 2.5 (1.7-3.8)), vascular (2.5 (1.6-3.8)), musculoskeletal/stenosis (1.7 (1.2-2.5)) and other nontraumatic SCI (2.3 (1.5-3.6)) were associated with decreased survival. Ten-year survival was decreased in nontraumatic SCI (mean (s.d.), 1.8 (0.3) years lost), with largest decreases in survival for metastatic cancer and spinal cord ischemia.

CONCLUSIONS: Age, male sex and lower dismissal FIM score were associated with decreased survival, but neither injury severity nor level was associated with it. Survival after SCI varies depending on SCI cause, with survival better after traumatic SCI than after nontraumatic SCI. Metastatic cancer and vascular ischemia were associated with the greatest survival reduction.

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