The burden of acute traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) among U. S. children and adolescents was last described over a decade ago using inpatient data. We describe cumulative incidence, mortality, discharge disposition, and inflation-adjusted charges of childhood and adolescent TSCI in the U.S. using emergency department (ED) data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (2007-2010). Patients ages 17 years and younger with a diagnosis of acute TSCI were identified using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) diagnosis codes 806.∗ and 952.∗ (N=6132). The cumulative incidence of childhood and adolescent TSCI averaged 17.5 per million population per year. The median age at presentation was 15 years (interquartile range [IQR]=12-16) and the majority of patients were male (72.5%). The overall median new injury severity score (NISS) was 16 (IQR=9-27), remaining unchanged during the study duration (p=0.703). Children 5 years and younger were more likely to be injured from a road traffic accident (RTA; 50.9%), sustain C1-C4 injuries (47.4%), have more severe injury (median NISS=22; IQR=13-29), and concurrent brain injury (24%) compared to older children and adolescents, p<0.001. Firearms were implicated in 8.3% of injuries, of which 94.7% were among adolescents ages 13-17 years. Of the 35 TSCI-related ED deaths, 40% occurred among children ages 5 years and younger. 62.4% of patients required inpatient admission. Despite stable cumulative incidence and overall injury severity, ED treatment charge per visit increased on average $1394 from $3495 in 2007 to $4889 in 2010 (p=0.008). RTA-related TSCI disproportionately affects young children, while firearm-related TSCI is most common among adolescents. These findings inform TSCI prevention strategies. Prevention may be key in mitigating rising healthcare cost.
- Nationwide Emergency Department Sample
- traumatic spinal cord injury