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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2001 Dec 15;26(24 Suppl):S58-67.

Recruitment and early treatment in a multicenter study of acute spinal cord injury.

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  • 1Medical Group, S.C., Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch, 2515 North Clark Street, Suite 800, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA.



Post hoc secondary analysis of data from 1992 to 1998 in the trial of Sygen in Acute Spinal Cord Injury.


Quasi-epidemiologic understanding of injury and treatment patterns and of recruitment in an SCI trial. No drug efficacy results.


The most recent large epidemiologic study was the National SCI Database by Stover and colleagues around 1980.


Emphasis on descriptive, rather than inferential, statistics: consistent with secondary analysis.


The study involved 760 patients at 28 centers in North America. Cervical injuries were more common than thoracic, and complete injuries were more common than incomplete injuries. Recruitment in the complete cervical stratum was 332, but the incomplete thoracic strata had only 31 patients combined. Vital signs at arrival and on randomization show fair stability. Clock times show more injuries on weekends and nights but suggest immediate attention was given. Elapsed times to treatment (especially EMT and Medevac arrival) are short. The rate of direct admission to tertiary centers, traction weight, and time to surgery vary among centers. Inpatient rehabilitation appeared driven by insurance in addition to severity.


The imbalances in favor of cervical and of complete injuries would make it hard for studies to attain results for SCI in general. The vital signs and time patterns suggest local protocol-driven stabilization to prevent secondary physiologic injury early after SCI. Some features of care vary among centers, but the sparseness of prospective data in specific injury and treatment categories suggests that treatment guidelines have limited empirical support and should be made cautiously.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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