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Sep 09, 2015
The American Surgeon
Despite the potentially devastating impact of missed cervical spine injuries (CI), there continues to be a large disparity in how institutions attempt to make the diagnosis. To better streamline the approach among institutions, understanding incidence and risk factors across the country is paramount. We evaluated the incidence and risk factors of CI using the National Trauma Databank for 2008 and 2009. We performed a retrospective review of the National Trauma Databank for 2008 and 2009 comparing patients with and without CI. We then performed subset analysis separating injury by patients with and without fracture and ligamentous injury. There were a total of 591,138 patients included with a 6.2 per cent incidence of CI. Regression found that age, Injury Severity Score, alcohol intoxication, and specific mechanisms of motor vehicle crash (MVC), motorcycle crash (MCC), fall, pedestrian stuck, and bicycle were independent risk factors for overall injury (P < 0.0001). Patients with CI had longer intensive care unit (8.5 12.5 vs 5.1 7.7) and hospital lengths of stay (days) (9.6 14.2 vs 5.3 8.1) and higher mortality (1.2 per cent vs 0.3%), compared with those without injury (P < 0.0001). There were 33,276 patient with only fractures for an incidence of 5.6 per cent and 1875 patients with ligamentous injury. Just over 6 per cent of patients suffer some form of CI after blunt trauma with the majority being fractures. Higher Injury Severity Score and MVC were consistent risk factors in both groups. This information will assist in devising an algorithm for clearance that can be used nationally allowing for more consistency among trauma providers.

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