Author(s): Carreon LY, Glassman SD, Campbell MJ
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: The anatomy and biomechanics of the growing spine produce failure patterns different from those in adults. Spinal injury in the pediatric patient is a concern as prevention of further neurologic damage and deformity and the good potential for recovery make timely identification and appropriate treatment of such injury critical. A retrospective clinical case series was conducted to present data from a large series of pediatric patients with spine injuries from a single regional trauma center. METHODS: One hundred thirty-seven children with spine injuries were seen over 10 years and were divided into three age groups: 0-9, 10-14, and 15-17 years. Analysis of variance and chi2 were used to analyze differences between groups. RESULTS: There were 36 patients aged 0-9, 49 aged 10-14, and 52 aged 15-17. Spine injury incidence increased with age. Motor vehicular accidents were the most common cause in this series. There were 36\% cervical, 34\% thoracic, 29\% lumbar, 34\% multilevel contiguous, and 7\% multilevel noncontiguous involvement. Nineteen percent had spinal cord injury. Thirteen of 21 complete neurologic injuries and all 3 incomplete injuries improved. Cord injury was more common in the 0-9 age group. Four of five patients with spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality (SCIWORA) were in the 0-9 age group and had complete neurologic injuries. Young children with cervical injuries were more likely to die than older children. Fifty-three percent had associated injuries. Eighteen percent underwent decompression, fusion, and instrumentation. Two patients developed scoliosis. The complication rate in surgical patients was higher than in patients treated nonsurgically and in polytrauma patients. This may be related to the severity of the initial injury. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest age-related patterns of injury that differ from previous work. The incidence of cord injury is 20\% with higher frequencies in the young child. Potential for neurologic recovery is good. Young children have a higher risk for death than older children. There was no predominance of cervical injuries in the young child. The incidence of SCIWORA was low. Higher complication rates were seen in polytrauma and surgical patients.
This article was published in J Spinal Disord Tech
and referenced in Journal of Spine