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Pediatr Emerg Care. 1994 Jun;10(3):132-7.

Age and outcome in pediatric cervical spine injury: 11-year experience.

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  • 1Emergency Medical Trauma Center, Children's National Medical Center, Washington, DC.


Age-related outcome in children with cervical spine injury has not been previously reported. We performed a retrospective chart review of all children with cervical spine injury who presented to a children's hospital during an 11-year period; 73 patients were identified. Their mean age was 8.6 years, with bimodal peaks at 2 to 4 and 12 to 15 years. Sixty-seven percent of the injuries were traffic-related, resulting from motor vehicle crashes affecting passengers, pedestrians, or bicyclists. Distraction and subluxation injuries were the most common injuries in children aged eight years or younger, whereas fractures were more common in older children. Younger children sustained more severe injuries than older children, as measured by the Revised Trauma Score, Injury Severity Score, and Trauma Score-Injury Severity Score estimated probability of survival, and were more likely to sustain injuries to higher levels of the cervical spine. Deaths occurred exclusively in children eight years old or younger, but the rate of occurrence of neurologic disability was similar in both groups: 26% in those eight years old and under, and 25% in those more than eight years old. The mortality in younger patients was not caused exclusively by the higher level of cervical injury, but it occurred more often in the presence of head injury and multiple trauma.

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