Background: While the cities in China in which spinal cord injury (SCI) studies have been conducted previously are at the forefront of medical care, northwest China is relatively underdeveloped economically, and the epidemiological characteristics of SCI have rarely been reported in this region.
Methods: The SCI epidemiological survey software developed was used to analyze the data of patients treated with SCI from 2014 to 2018. The sociodemographic characteristics of patients, including name, age, sex, and occupation, were recorded. The following medical record data, obtained from physical and radiographic examinations, were included in the study: data on the cause of injury, fracture location, associated injuries, and level of injury. Neurological function was evaluated using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) impairment scale. In addition, the treatment and complications during hospitalization were documented.
Results: A total of 3487 patients with SCI with a mean age of 39.5 ± 11.2 years were identified in this study, and the male to female ratio was 2.57:1. The primary cause of SCI was falls (low falls 47.75%, high falls 37.31%), followed by traffic accidents (8.98%), and impact with falling objects (4.39%). Of all patients, 1786 patients (51.22%) had complications and other injuries. According to the ASIA impairment scale, the numbers of grade A, B, C, and D injuries were 747 (21.42%), 688 (19.73%), 618 (17.72%), and 1434 (41.12%), respectively. During the hospitalization period, a total of 1341 patients experienced complications, with a percentage of 38.46%. Among all complications, pulmonary infection was the most common (437, 32.59%), followed by hyponatremia (326, 24.31%), bedsores (219, 16.33%), urinary tract infection (168, 12.53%), deep venous thrombosis (157, 11.71%), and others (34, 2.53%). Notably, among 3487 patients with SCI, only 528 patients (15.14%) received long-term rehabilitation treatment.
Conclusion: The incidence of SCI in northwest China was on the rise with higher proportion in males; fall and the MCVs were the primary causes of SCI. The occupations most threatened by SCI are farmers and workers. The investigation and analysis of the epidemiological characteristics of SCI in respiratory complications are important factors leading to death after SCI, especially when the SCI occurs in the cervical spinal cord. Finally, the significance of SCI rehabilitation should be addressed.