Effect of age on cervical spine injury in pediatric population: a National Trauma Data Bank review

J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Sep;46(9):1771-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2011.03.007.


Background: The objective of this study was to characterize the incidence, risk factors, and patterns of cervical spine injury (CSI) in different pediatric developmental ages.

Methods: A retrospective review of the National Trauma Data Bank was conducted for the period of January 2002 through December 2006 to identify pediatric patients admitted following blunt trauma. Patients were stratified into 4 developmental age groups: infants/toddlers (age 0-3 years), preschool/young children (age 4-9 years), preadolescents (age 10-13 years), and adolescents (age 14-17 years). Patients with a CSI were identified by the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes. Demographics, clinical injury data, level of CSI, and outcomes were abstracted and analyzed.

Results: A total of 240,647 patients met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 1.3% (n = 3,035) sustained a CSI. The incidence of CSI in the stratified age groups was 0.4% in infants/toddlers, 0.4% in preschool/young children, 0.8% in preadolescents, and 2.6% in adolescents. The level of CSI (upper [C1-C4] vs lower [C5-C7]) according to the age groups was as follows: infants and toddlers, 70% vs 25%; preschool/young children, 74% vs 17%; preadolescents, 52% vs 37%; and adolescents, 40% vs 45%, respectively. The adjusted risk for CSI increased 2-fold in preadolescents and 5-fold in adolescents.

Conclusion: The incidence of pediatric CSI increases in a stepwise fashion after 9 years of age. We noted an increase in lower CSI and a decrease in upper CSI after the age of 9 years. The incidence of upper CSI compared with lower CSI was higher in preadolescents (52% vs 37%) and almost equal in adolescents (40% vs 45%).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / epidemiology*