Characterization of spinal injuries sustained by American service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan: A study of 2,089 instances of spine trauma
ABSTRACT This study sought to characterize spine injuries among soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan whose autopsy results were stored by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.
The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System data set was queried to identify American military personnel who sustained a spine injury in conjunction with wounds that resulted in death during deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan from 2003 to 2011. Demographic and injury-specific characteristics were abstracted for each individual identified. The raw incidence of spinal injuries was calculated and correlations were drawn between the presence of spinal trauma and military specialty, mechanism and manner of injury, and wounds in other body regions. Significant associations were also sought for specific injury patterns, including spinal cord injury, atlantooccipital injury, low lumbar vertebral fractures, and lumbosacral dissociation. Statistical calculations were performed using χ statistic, z test, t test with Satterthwaite correction, and multivariate logistic regression.
Among 5,424 deceased service members, 2,089 (38.5%) were found to have sustained at least one spinal injury. Sixty-seven percent of all fatalities with spinal injury were caused by explosion, while 15% occurred by gunshot. Spinal fracture was the most common type of injury (n = 2,328), while spinal dislocations occurred in 378, and vertebral column transection occurred in 223. Fifty-two percent sustained at least one cervical spine injury, and spinal cord injury occurred in 40%. Spinal cord injuries were more likely to occur as a result of gunshot (p < 0.001), while atlantooccipital injuries (p < 0.001) and low lumbar fractures (p = 0.01) were significantly higher among combat specialty soldiers. No significant association was identified between spinal injury risk and the periods 2003 to 2007 and 2008 to 2011, although atlantooccipital injuries and spinal cord injury were significantly reduced beginning in 2008 (p < 0.001).
The results of this study indicate that the incidence of spinal trauma in modern warfare seems to be higher than previously reported.
Epidemiologic study, level III.
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ABSTRACT: We set out to describe combat-related spine trauma over a 10-year period, and thereby determine the frequency of new onset radiculopathy secondary to injuries sustained in support of combat operations. We performed a retrospective analysis of a surgical database at three military institutions. Patients undergoing spine surgery following a combat-related injury in Afghanistan or Iraq between July 2003 and July 2013 were evaluated. We identified 105 patients with combat-related (Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom) spine trauma requiring operative intervention. Of these, 15 (14.3%) patients had radiculopathy as their primary complaint after injury. All patients were diagnosed with herniated nucleus pulposus. The average age was 39 years, with 80% injured in Iraq and 20% in Afghanistan. The most common mechanism of injury was mounted improvised explosive device (33%). The cervical spine was most commonly involved (53%), followed by lumbar spine (40%). Average time from injury to surgery was 23.4 months; 53% of patients had continued symptoms following surgery, and two patients had at least one revision surgery. Two patients were medically retired because of their symptoms. This study is the only of its kind evaluating the operative treatment of traumatic radiculopathy following combat-related trauma. We identified a relatively high rate of radiculopathy in these patients. Reprint & Copyright © 2015 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.Military medicine 11/2014; 180(2). DOI:10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00260 · 0.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Retrospective analysis of inpatient and outpatient data from a single academic trauma center. To test the effectiveness of a conservative treatment algorithm for civilian spinal gunshot wounds (CSGSWs) by comprehensively evaluating neurological status and recovery, fracture type, concomitant injuries, indications for surgery, and complications. Few large studies exist to guide treatment of CSGSWs, and none have been published in nearly 20 years. A search of International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) codes was performed for all hospital patients treated from 2003 to 2011 by either neurosurgery or orthopedic surgery to identify 159 consecutive patients who sustained CSGSWs. Mean follow-up was 13.6 months. American Spinal Injury Association grading was used to assess neurological injury. Fifty percent of patients had neurological deficits from CSGSW. Complete spinal injury was the most common injury grade; thoracic injuries had the most risk of complete injury (P < 0.001). Nearly 80% of patients had concomitant injuries to other organs. Operative treatment was more likely in patients with severe neurological injuries (P = 0.008) but was not associated with improved neurological outcomes (P = 1.00). Nonoperative treatment did not lead to any cases of late spinal instability or neurological deterioration. Overall, 31% of patients had an improvement of at least 1 American Spinal Injury Association grade by final follow-up. Nearly half of patients experienced at least 1 GSW-related complication; risk of complications was associated with neurological injury grade (P < 0.001) and operative treatment (P = 0.04). The vast majority of CSGSWs should be managed nonoperatively, regardless of neurological grade or number of spinal columns injured. Indications for surgery include spinal infection and persistent cerebrospinal fluid leaks. 3.Spine 04/2015; 40(7):450-461. DOI:10.1097/BRS.0000000000000797 · 2.45 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In 2009-2010, military physicians hypothesized that a new pattern of spinal injury had emerged, resulting from improvised explosive device assault on up-armored vehicles, associated with a high rate of point of first contact fracture and neurological injury-the combat burst fracture. We sought to determine the incidence of all thoracolumbar (TL) burst fractures and combat burst fractures in 2009-2010 as compared to two antecedent years.Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 08/2014; 134(10). DOI:10.1007/s00402-014-2066-9 · 1.31 Impact Factor