Pediatric spinal injury: review of 174 hospital admissions

Mark G. Hamilton M.D.C.M., F.R.C.S.(C)1 and S. Terence Mylks M.D., F.R.C.S.(C)1
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Neuroseiences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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✓ Injury to the spinal column and spinal cord occurs relatively infrequently in the pediatric population. A review of 174 pediatric patients is presented, representing 5.4% of all patients admitted with spinal injury, Spinal cord injury was present in 45% of patients. A distinct injury profile, explained by anatomical and biomechanical features, distinguishes the young patient with an immature spine from older adolescents with a more mature, adult-like spine. The younger patients, while less likely to have spinal injury, had a higher incidence of neurological injury, in addition to a higher frequency of both spinal cord injury without radiological abnormality and upper cervical cord injury. In addition, younger patients with spinal cord injury and no radiological abnormality were more likely to have complete or severe cord injury. Prognosis was determined by the severity of spinal cord injury. Patients with complete cord injuries showed little improvement, while patients with incomplete injuries generally fared much better, with 74% showing significant improvement and 59% experiencing a complete recovery of neurological functions. There were six deaths, but none was attributed solely to spinal injury. The authors conclude that outcome is quite good after pediatric spinal cord injury that does not produce a physiologically complete cord deficit.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Mark G. Hamilton, M.D.C.M., c/o The Editorial Office, Barrow Neurological Institute, 350 West Thomas Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85013.
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