Prehospital Predictors of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury in Victoria, Australia

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Abstract

Objectives: To identify the predictors of traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) and describe the differences between confirmed and potential TSCI cases in the prehospital setting. Methods: A retrospective cohort study including all adult patients over a six-year period (2007–12) with potential TSCI who were attended and transported by Ambulance Victoria (AV). We extracted potential TSCI cases from the AV data warehouse and linked with the Victorian State Trauma Registry to compare with final hospital diagnosis. Results: We included a total of 106,059 patients with potential TSCI in the study, with 257 having a spinal cord injury confirmed at hospital (0.2%). The median [First and third Quartiles] age of confirmed TSCI cases was 49 [32–69] years, with males comprising 84.1%. Confirmed TSCI were mainly due to falls (44.8%) and traffic incidents (40.5%). AV spinal care guidelines had a sensitivity of 100% to detect confirmed TSCI. There were several factors associated with a diagnosis of TSCI. These were meeting AV Potential Major Trauma criteria, male gender, presence of neurological deficit, presence of an altered state of consciousness, high falls (> 3 meters), diving, or motorcycle or bicycle collisions. Conclusion: This study identified several predictors of TSCI including meeting AV Potential Major Trauma criteria, male gender, presence of neurological deficit, presence of an altered state of consciousness, high falls (> 3 meters), diving, or motorcycle or bicycle collisions. Most of these predictors are included in NEXUS and/or CCR criteria, however, Potential Major Trauma criteria have not previously been linked to the presence of TSCI. Therefore, Emergency Medical Systems are encouraged to integrate similar Potential Major Trauma criteria into their guidelines and protocols to further improve the provider's accuracy in identifying TSCI and to be more selective in their spinal immobilization, thereby reducing unwarranted adverse effects of this practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-590
Number of pages8
JournalPrehospital Emergency Care
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2017

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