Tej D. Azad, Divyaansh Raj, Kathleen R. Ran, Vikas N. Vattipally, Anmol Warman, Micheal Raad, John R. Williams, Daniel Lubelski, Elliott R. Haut, Jose I. Suarez, Ali Bydon, Timothy F. Witham, Christopher D. Witiw, Nicholas Theodore, James P. Byrne

Concomitant Traumatic Brain Injury Delays Surgery in Patients With Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Surgery

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Growing evidence supports prompt surgical decompression for patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI). Rates of concomitant tSCI and traumatic brain injury (TBI) range from 10% to 30%. Concomitant TBI may delay tSCI diagnosis and surgical intervention. Little is known about real-world management of this common injury constellation that carries significant clinical consequences. This study aimed to quantify the impact of concomitant TBI on surgical timing in a national cohort of patients with tSCI. METHODS: Patient data were obtained from the National Trauma Data Bank (2007-2016). Patients admitted for tSCI and who received surgical intervention were included. Delayed surgical intervention was defined as surgery after 24 hours of admission. Multivariable hierarchical regression models were constructed to measure the risk-adjusted association between concomitant TBI and delayed surgical intervention. Secondary outcome included favorable discharge status. RESULTS: We identified 14 964 patients with surgically managed tSCI across 377 North American trauma centers, of whom 2444 (16.3%) had concomitant TBI and 4610 (30.8%) had central cord syndrome (CCS). The median time to surgery was 20.0 hours for patients without concomitant TBI and 24.8 hours for patients with concomitant TBI. Hierarchical regression modeling revealed that concomitant TBI was independently associated with delayed surgery in patients with tSCI (odds ratio [OR], 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.6). Although CCS was associated with delayed surgery (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.4-1.7), we did not observe a significant interaction between concomitant TBI and CCS. In the subset of patients with concomitant tSCI and TBI, patients with severe TBI were significantly more likely to experience a surgical delay than patients with mild TBI (OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.0-1.9). CONCLUSION: Concomitant TBI delays surgical management for patients with tSCI. This effect is largest for patients with tSCI with severe TBI. These findings should serve to increase awareness of concomitant TBI and tSCI and the likelihood that this may delay time-sensitive surgery.

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