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J Clin Med Res. 2013 Apr;5(2):75-83. doi: 10.4021/jocmr1227w. Epub 2013 Feb 25.

Geriatric Trauma Patients With Cervical Spine Fractures due to Ground Level Fall: Five Years Experience in a Level One Trauma Center.

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1
Department of Emergency Medicine, JPS Health Network, 1500 S. Main St. Fort Worth, TX 76104, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

It has been found that significantly different clinical outcomes occur in trauma patients with different mechanisms of injury. Ground level falls (GLF) are usually considered "minor trauma" with less injury occurred in general. However, it is not uncommon that geriatric trauma patients sustain cervical spine (C-spine) fractures with other associated injuries due to GLF or less. The aim of this study is to determine the injury patterns and the roles of clinical risk factors in these geriatric trauma patients.

METHODS:

Data were reviewed from the institutional trauma registry of our local level 1 trauma center. All patients had sustained C-spine fracture(s). Basic clinical characteristics, the distribution of C-spine fracture(s), and mechanism of injury in geriatric patients (65 years or older) were compared with those less than 65 years old. Furthermore, different clinical variables including age, gender, Glasgow coma scale (GCS), blood alcohol level, and co-existing injuries were analyzed by multivariate logistic regression in geriatric trauma patients due to GLF and internally validated by random bootstrapping technique.

RESULTS:

From 2006 - 2010, a total of 12,805 trauma patients were included in trauma registry, of which 726 (5.67%) had sustained C-spine fracture(s). Among all C-spine fracture patients, 19.15% (139/726) were geriatric patients. Of these geriatric patients 27.34% (38/139) and 53.96% (75/139) had C1 and C2 fractures compared with 13.63% (80/587) and 21.98% (129/587) in young trauma patients (P < 0.001). Of geriatric trauma patients 13.67% (19/139) and 18.71% (26/139) had C6 and C7 fractures compared with 32.03% (188/587) and 41.40% (243/587) in younger ones separately (P < 0.001). Furthermore, 53.96% (75/139) geriatric patients had sustained C-spine fractures due to GLF with more upper C-spine fractures (C1 and C2). Only 3.2% of those had positive blood alcohol levels compared with 52.9% of younger patients (P < 0.001). In addition, 6.34% of geriatric patients due to GLF had intracranial pathology (ICP) which was one of the most common co-injuries with C-spine fractures. Logistic regression analysis showed the adjusted odds ratios of 1.17 (age) and 91.57 (male) in geriatric GLF patients to predict this co-injury pattern of C-spine fracture and ICP.

CONCLUSION:

Geriatric patients tend to sustain more upper C-spine fractures than non-geriatric patients regardless of the mechanisms. GLF or less not only can cause isolated C-spines fracture(s) but also lead to other significant injuries with ICP as the most common one in geriatric patients. Advanced age and male are two risk factors that can predict this co-injury pattern. In addition, it seems that alcohol plays no role in the cause of GLF in geriatric trauma patients.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol; Cervical spine fracture; Geriatric; Ground level fall; Trauma

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