Epidemiology and Clinical Management of Traumatic Spine Injuries at a Major Government Hospital in Cambodia

Asian Spine J. 2017 Dec;11(6):908-916. doi: 10.4184/asj.2017.11.6.908. Epub 2017 Dec 7.


Study design: Cross sectional study.

Purpose: To characterize the pattern of injury, describe the current clinical management, and determine the outcomes in traumatic spine injury (TSI) patients presenting to a major government hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Overview of literature: There is a paucity of literature on epidemiology or current clinical practices for TSIs in Cambodia. The findings from this study can thus serve as a valuable resource for future progress in treating TSIs in low-income countries.

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional study of TSI patients admitted to Preah Kossamak Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Demographics, cause of spinal injury, spinal level of injury, surgical procedures and techniques, complications, and American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) grades were recorded and analyzed.

Results: Eighty patients were admitted with TSI between October 2013 and June 2014. Falls from heights were the most common cause of TSI, followed by road traffic accidents. 78% of the admitted patients underwent at least one surgical procedure. Without intraoperative imaging, 4 patients (6%) had wrong level surgery, and 1 patient (2%) had misplacement of pedicle screws. Sacral decubitus ulcers were the most common non-surgically related complication. Antibiotics were administered to >90% of patients. There were no in-hospital mortalities. Of the 60 spinal cord injury (SCI) patients, 32% (19/60) showed improvement in their ASIA grade at the time of discharge, and 52% (31/60) showed no change. At follow-up, 32% (19/60) of SCI patients reported improvement, and 8% (5/60) reported no change. However, 36 SCI patients (60%) were lost to follow-up.

Conclusions: Despite technological limitations, outcomes of TSI patients in Cambodia appear favorable with evidence of clinical improvement and low mortality.

Keywords: Cambodia; Epidemiology; Global health; Neurosurgical procedures; Spinal injuries.