University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Surgical compared with nonsurgical management of fractures in male veterans with chronic spinal cord injury


Bethel M, Bailey L, Weaver F, Le B, Burns SP, Svircev JN, Heggeness MH, Carbone LD



Publication Info:

Spinal Cord, 53(5):402-407


STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective review of a clinical database.
OBJECTIVES: To examine treatment modalities of incident appendicular fractures in men with chronic SCI and mortality outcomes by treatment modality.
SETTING: United States Veterans Health Administration Healthcare System.
METHODS: This was an observational study of 1979 incident fractures that occurred over 6 years among 12?162 male veterans with traumatic SCI of at least 2 years duration from the Veterans Health Administration (VA) Spinal Cord Dysfunction Registry. Treatment modalities were classified as surgical or nonsurgical treatment. Mortality outcomes at 1 year following the incident fracture were determined by treatment modality.
RESULTS: A total of 1281 male veterans with 1979 incident fractures met inclusion criteria for the study. These fractures included 345 (17.4%) upper-extremity fractures and 1634 (82.6%) lower-extremity fractures. A minority of patients (9.4%) were treated with surgery. Amputations and disarticulations accounted for 19.7% of all surgeries (1.3% of all fractures), and the majority of these were done more than 6 weeks following the incident fracture. There were no significant differences in mortality among men with fractures treated surgically compared with those treated nonsurgically.
CONCLUSIONS: Currently, the majority of appendicular fractures in male patients with chronic SCI are managed nonsurgically within the VA health-care system. There is no difference in mortality by type of treatment.

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