JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pediatric Thoracolumbar Spinal Injuries in United States Trauma Centers

Nikita Habermehl, Nori Mercuri Minich, Sindhoosha Malay, Amr Mahran, Grace Kim
Pediatric Emergency Care 2021 April 9
33848099

OBJECTIVES: Injuries are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children ages 1 to 18 years. There are limited studies about pediatric thoracolumbar (TL) spinal injuries; the purpose of this study was to characterize TL spinal injuries among pediatric patients evaluated in US trauma centers.

METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of the National Trauma Data Bank. Patients aged 1 to 18 years with a thoracic or lumbar spinal injury sustained by blunt trauma during calendar years 2011 through 2016 were included. Cervical spinal injuries, death before arrival, or penetrating trauma were excluded. The data was abstracted, and missing data was addressed by imputations. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regressions.

RESULTS: A total of 20,062 patients were included in the study. Thoracolumbar spinal injuries were more commonly sustained by 16- to 17-year-olds (45.7%), boys (56.6%), and White (74.8%). The injuries were often from a motor vehicle collision (MVC) (55.2%) and resulted in a bone injury (82.3%). Mechanism of injury and age were significant in predicting injury type. A fall was more likely than MVC to result in disc injury (odds ratio [OR], 1.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24-2.33), strain injury (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 1.05-1.34), or cord injury (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.12-1.45). Younger children were more likely than adolescents to present with disc injury (OR, 2.79; 95% CI, 1.75-4.45), cord injury (OR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.18-1.81), or strain injury (OR, 1.37; 95% CI, 1.09-1.72).

CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the largest pediatric TL spinal study. Clinicians should consider TL spinal injuries when adolescents present after an MVC, and specifically, TL spinal cord injuries when young children present after a fall. Additionally, pediatric TL spinal injury prevention should highlight motor vehicle and fall safety.

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