Study design: Retrospective population-based cohort study.
Objectives: To provide national data on epidemiology of traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) among the population of Estonia from 1997 to 2007.
Setting: All Estonian hospitals.
Methods: Medical records of patients with TSCI from all regional, central, general and rehabilitation hospitals in Estonia were retrospectively reviewed. Epidemiological characteristics, etiology, neurological level and severity of injury, concomitant injuries were analyzed.
Results: A total of 595 patients with TSCI from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2007 were identified. The male to female ratio was 5.5:1. The mean age at injury was 39.0 years. The crude incidence rate was 39.7 (95% confidence interval: 36.6-43.0) per million population. The most frequent cause of TSCI was falls (41%), followed by traffic accidents (29%). Alcohol consumption preceded 43% of injuries. The lesion level was cervical in 59.4%, thoracic in 18.3% and lumbar/sacral in 22.3%.
Conclusion: Compared to recent studies from Europe, where the incidence of TSCI is between 15 and 30 per million population, the incidence of TSCI in Estonia is among the highest. The rates are significantly higher in men compared with women and especially among the youngest men. The leading cause of TSCI is falls. A significant proportion of injuries are related to alcohol consumption before trauma in Estonia.