Pediatric spinal injury: the very young

J Neurosurg. 1988 Jan;68(1):25-30. doi: 10.3171/jns.1988.68.1.0025.


Maturity of the spine and spine-supporting structures is an important variable distinguishing spinal cord injuries in children from those in adults. Clinical data are presented from 71 children aged 12 years or younger who constituted 2.7% of 2598 spinal cord-injured patients admitted to the authors' institutions from June, 1972, to June, 1986. The 47 children with traumatic spinal cord injury averaged 6.9 years of age and included 20 girls (43%). The etiology of the pediatric injuries differed from that of adult injuries in that falls were the most common causative factor (38%) followed by automobile-related injuries (20%). Ten children (21.3%) had spinal cord injury without radiographic abnormality (SCIWORA), whereas 27 (57%) had evidence of neurological injury. Complete neurological injury was seen in 19% of all traumatic pediatric spinal cord injuries and in 40% of those with SCIWORA. The most frequent level of spinal injury was C-2 (27%, 15 cases) followed by T-10 (13%, seven cases). Upon statistical examination of the data, a subpopulation of children aged 3 years or younger emerged. These very young children had a significant difference in level of injury, requirement for surgical stability, and sex distribution compared to 4- to 12-year-old children.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Chicago
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / etiology
  • Spinal Injuries / epidemiology