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09-06-2024 | Spinal Injury | Original Article

Epidemiology of pediatric spinal trauma with neurological deficits in Catalonia: a 36-year experience

Authors: Alejandro García-Rudolph, Mark Andrew Wright, Nicolas Rivas, Eloy Opisso, Joan Vidal

Published in: European Spine Journal

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Abstract

Purpose

Existing literature on pediatric traumatic spinal cord injury (PTSCI) demonstrates large variations in characteristics, incidence, time-periods and etiology, worldwide. Epidemiological studies addressing injuries to the total spine, conducted in Southern European regions are remarkably scarce; therefore we aimed to investigate long-term trends analyzing etiology, fracture location and type, single or multiple fractures, associated lesions and neurological status in Catalonia, Spain.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective observational study. We analyzed post-acute patients after PTSCI, aged 0–17, admitted with neurological deficits between 1986 and 2022 to a specialized hospital in Catalonia. Neurological deficits were assessed using the American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS).

Results

Two hundred and forty nine children were included, 174 (69.9%) boys and 75 (30.1%) girls; mean age was 13.9 years (range, 2 months to 17 years). Two hundred and four children (82%) had ≥ 1 spinal fractures, 66 (26.5%) dislocations and 8 (3.2%) SCIWORA. Fractures were multilevel contiguous in 108 (43.4%) cases. Fracture types comprised 81 vertebral compactions (32.5%), 22 burst fractures (8.8%), 7 odontoid (2.8%) and 4 tear-drops (1.6%).
There were ≥ 1 associated lesions in 112 cases (45%): in limbs in 23 cases (9.2%), thorax or abdomen in 59 (23.7%) and skull or face in 81 (32.5%). In 44 cases (39% of the 112) there were multiple lesions. Locations comprised cervical spine in 105 cases (42%), thoracic spine in 124 (49%), lumbar spine in 18 (7%), and sacrum in 2 (0.8%).
Road traffic accidents (RTAs) were the main etiology (62.2%) over the whole period. However, from 2016 onwards, RTAs dropped below the rate of falls and sports injuries.
The most common sites for injury in those aged 9 years or older were in the cervical (41.1%) and thoracic (50.7%) regions. Those aged 8 or under were far more likely to sustain a complete SCI (80.0%) or an accompanying traumatic brain injury (45.0%) likely due to higher numbers of pedestrian versus car RTAs.
A significant peak in the occurrence of cases during 2006–2010 (20.1%) was identified with an absolute drop immediately after, during 2011–2015 (8.8%). A marked shift in trend is observed between 2016–2022 regarding age of injuries (an increase in 9 years or older), etiology (increase in falls and sports versus RTA), AIS grade (increase in incomplete lesions AIS B-D versus AIS A), severity (increase in tetraplegia versus paraplegia) and location (increase in cervical versus lumbar and thoracic injuries).

Conclusions

A shift in trend is observed in the past 7 years regarding age of injuries (increase in those older than 9), etiology (increase in falls and sports versus RTA), AIS grade (increase in incomplete lesions AIS B-D versus AIS A), severity (increase in tetraplegia versus paraplegia) and location (increase in cervical).

Level of evidence

IV.
Literature
3.
Metadata
Title
Epidemiology of pediatric spinal trauma with neurological deficits in Catalonia: a 36-year experience
Authors
Alejandro García-Rudolph
Mark Andrew Wright
Nicolas Rivas
Eloy Opisso
Joan Vidal
Publication date
09-06-2024
Publisher
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Published in
European Spine Journal
Print ISSN: 0940-6719
Electronic ISSN: 1432-0932
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-024-08351-1