STUDY DESIGN:
Retrospective cohort analysis of hospital discharge and mortality data for spinal fracture and spinal cord injury patients in a single state from 1990 to 1995.

OBJECTIVES:
Population-based review of preinjury patient factors, injury and treatment patterns, and in-hospital versus 60-day mortality in adult and geriatric spinal injury patients.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA:
While population-based analyses of hospitalized injured patients indicate that geriatric patients are at higher risk for adverse outcome, less is known about the specific subset of patients with spinal fracture and spinal cord injury. A specific knowledge gap exists regarding factors that influence survival after hospital discharge of spine-injured patients.

METHODS:
Patients with cervical, thoracic, or lumbar spinal fracture were identified by ICD-9-CM discharge diagnosis codes. Age, gender, preexisting conditions, and injury severity were determined, and patients were divided into adult (ages 16-64 years; n = 6,029) and geriatric (ages >or=65 years; n = 3,973) groups. In-hospital and 60-day mortality rates and odds ratios of 60-day mortality were calculated relative to patient and injury characteristics, level of treating hospital, and surgical treatment.

RESULTS:
Increased 60-day mortality was associated with preexisting medical conditions, increased injury severity, and paralysis but reduced with surgical treatment. Geriatric patients had fewer cervical injures, lower force injuries, less severe overall injuries, decreased paralysis, increased preexisting conditions, decreased treatment at level 1 and 2 treatment centers, and decreased odds of surgical treatment. Geriatric patients also had increased 60-day versus in-hospital mortality and increased mortality associated with cervical spine injury.

DISCUSSION:
Differences exist in preinjury patient factors, injury and treatment patterns, and mortality between adult and geriatric patients following spinal injuries. The increased 60-day versus in-hospital mortality for the geriatric population suggests that 60-day mortality may be a better measure of outcome for these patients. While the possibility of selection bias exists, both geriatricand adult patients had reduced 60-day mortality associated with surgical intervention.





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