Central African Journal of Medicine

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Non-traumatic spinal cord compression at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe

Aaron Musara, K Kalangu, S Makarawo


Compression of the spinal cord by encroachment on its space is of major importance as a cause of injury to its tissues, with serious neurological consequences. Patients with non-traumatic spinal cord compression represent a significant proportion of paraplegic/paretic individuals attended to in the neurosurgical units in Zimbabwe.

Objective: This study was carried out to retrospectively identify the various causes of spinal cord compression in our setting at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare from 1998 to 2004.

Setting: Parirenyatwa Hospital, Harare.

Design: Patient files of patients admitted and treated as cases of non-traumatic spinal cord compression between January 1998 and December 2004 were retrieved and analysed retrospectively.

Subjects: All records found of patients diagnosed of spinal cord compression were incorporated into the study. Eighty patients were therefore enrolled into the study.

Main Outcome Measures: Data was compiled from patient records and from pathological and radiological reports onto a closed questionnaire designed for computer analysis.

Results: Spinal tuberculosis was the commonest cause of cord compression (42.5% of all cases). Metastatic disease was next being responsible for 22.5% and primary tumours third, causing compression in 16.3%.

Conclusion: Spinal cord compression occurs more commonly in man than women in our setting with a ratio of 1.6:1. Spinal tuberculosis was the commonest cause of cord compression (42.5% of all cases).

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