Causes of death after spinal cord injury

Spinal Cord. 2000 Oct;38(10):604-10. doi: 10.1038/


Study design: Mortality review was undertaken of patients who suffered traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) between 1955 and 1994 inclusive.

Objectives: The study objective was to provide evidence of reasons for the observed reduction in long-term life expectancy for the SCI population.

Setting: Patients were those who had most, if not all, of their inpatient and outpatient care at Royal North Shore Hospital, Spinal Injuries Unit, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Methods: Data on causes of death for 195 patients fitting the inclusion criteria were analysed by actuarial methods using ICD9CM classifications.

Results: The incidence of death in the spinal cord injured, from septicaemia, pneumonia and influenza, diseases of the urinary uystem and suicide, are significantly higher than in the general population. The findings confirm variations in potentially treatable causes of death depending on neurological impairment, attained age and duration since injury. Unlike septicaemia and pneumonia, which have shown a significant reduction since 1980, the death rate for suicide alone has risen.

Conclusion: This analysis identified complications which affect mortality and morbidity in patients suffering from the effects of SCI.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Cause of Death*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraplegia / complications
  • Paraplegia / mortality
  • Quadriplegia / complications
  • Quadriplegia / mortality
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / mortality*