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Acute traumatic spinal cord injury

Authors
Robert R Hansebout, MD, FRCS(C), FACS
Edward Kachur, MD, FRCS(C)
Section Editors
Michael J Aminoff, MD, DSc
Maria E Moreira, MD
Deputy Editor
Janet L Wilterdink, MD

INTRODUCTION

Spinal cord injury has become epidemic in modern society. Despite advances made in the understanding of the pathogenesis and improvements in early recognition and treatment, it remains a devastating event, often producing severe and permanent disability. With a peak incidence in young adults, traumatic spinal cord injury remains a costly problem for society; direct medical expenses accrued over the lifetime of one patient range from 500,000 to 2 million US dollars [1].

This topic reviews acute traumatic spinal cord injury. The anatomy and clinical localization of spinal cord disease, other diseases affecting the spinal cord, and the chronic complications of spinal cord injury are discussed separately. (See "Anatomy and localization of spinal cord disorders" and "Disorders affecting the spinal cord" and "Chronic complications of spinal cord injury and disease".)

Issues regarding injury to the vertebral column and ligaments are also discussed separately. (See "Spinal column injuries in adults: Definitions, mechanisms, and radiographs" and "Evaluation and acute management of cervical spinal column injuries in adults" and "Evaluation of thoracic and lumbar spinal column injury".)

EPIDEMIOLOGY

Most demographic and epidemiological data related to traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) in the United States have been collected by the Model Spinal Cord Injury Care Systems and are published by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center [2]. In the United States, the incidence of TSCI in 2010 was about 40 per million persons per year, or about 12,400 annually [3], with approximately 250,000 living survivors of TSCI in the United States in July 2005. Similar figures are reported in Canada [4]. The incidence in the USA is higher than in most other countries.

The causes of TSCI in the United States are [3]:

                                    

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Mon Oct 20 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2014.
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