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Assessing Incidence and Risk Factors of Cervical Spine Injury in Blunt Trauma Patients Using the National Trauma Data Bank

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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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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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