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J Neurotrauma. 2005 Mar;22(3):368-81.

The effects of gender on clinical and neurological outcomes after acute cervical spinal cord injury.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The potential clinical relevance of gender on clinical and neurological outcome after spinal cord injury (SCI) has received little attention. In order to address this issue, we examined all consecutive cases of acute traumatic cervical SCI admitted to our institution from 1998 to 2000. There were 38 males (ages 17-89 years, mean of 51.6) and 17 females (ages 18-84 years, mean of 63.2). Both groups were comparable regarding level (C1 to C7) and severity of SCI (ASIA A to D) at admission. Age differences between the groups approached significance (p = 0.057), and thus this factor was treated as a covariate in the analysis. Co-morbidities were as frequent in men (86.8%) as in women (76.5%). The therapeutic approaches, length-of-stay in the acute care unit, mortality, and discharge disposition were similar in men and women. During hospitalization, 44.7% of men and 52.9% of women developed post-SCI secondary complications without any significant gender-related differences. Both groups showed a similar incidence of infections, cardiovascular complications, thromboembolism, and pressure sores. Univariate analysis revealed a trend for higher incidence of psychiatric complications (p = 0.054) and deep venous thrombosis (p = 0.092) in women, which was confirmed by multivariate analysis. Neurological outcome was not correlated with gender. A similar number of males and females (42.1%, 47.1%) showed evidence of neurological recovery as revealed by an improvement in ASIA scores. Moreover, 18.4% of males and 29.4% of females recovered to ASIA E status. Our data suggest a shift in the demographics of acute SCI with an increasing incidence in elderly women. Although neurological outcomes were not significantly related to gender, we observed a trend for higher rates of reactive depression and deep venous thrombosis in women. These issues may be of key clinical importance in developing improved management protocols for SCI so as to maximize functional recovery and quality-of-life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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