Spinal cord and spine trauma in a large teaching hospital in Ghana
Introduction:Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating injury, with its effect going beyond the injured patient to the care givers and family and with economic implications that can be long lasting. The study determined the occurrence and patterns of SCI and spine injury patterns, treatment and treatment outcomes in a large tertiary health facility in Ghana.Methods:This was a retrospective review of health records of patients at the Korle bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana. Data on 185 patients were collected over a period of 18 months from September 2012 to February 2014. Data were collected on basic demographic characteristics (age distribution), cause of SCI, type and severity of injuries, mode of transportation to the hospital and treatment modalities. In addition, data were collected on the imaging techniques used, waiting time and delays encountered, complications and follow-up. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze data using Windows Excel 2007 version.Results:A total of 185 patients were treated in the study period, 125 (67.6%) patients had cervical spine injury, 33 (17.8%) had thoracic spine injuries and 27 (14.6%) had lumbar injuries. In all, 141 (76%) were males. The age range of patients was 4 years to 86 years; mean age was 36.25±13.62 years. Spinal injuries were most common in the 31–45-year age group, followed by 16–30-year group. Most prevalent cause of spinal injury was road traffic accident (RTA), 130 (70.3%), whereas assault was the least common, 5 (2.7%). Delay in getting imaging studies conducted was high; 43 (23%) of the computed tomography scans required were performed after 48 h of admission. Only 76 (41%) patients were able to afford the cost of magnetic resonance imaging. Pressure sore (23%) and pneumonia (21%) were the most common complication during admission.Conclusion:RTA was the most common cause of spinal injuries and occurred in the relatively young population, especially among men. Structured public education and enforcement of road safety measures are imperative. Rapid response to management of patients with SCI at the teaching hospital needs attention by hospital management.
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