Spinal injuries admitted at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia over a 10-year period

  • UB Aguocha
  • PU Njoku
  • RC Echem


Background: Spinal injury can have devastating effect on an individual from a physical, psychological and socio-economic point of view. It is a calamity in human life and there is a need to reduce the disability that could arise from it.
Aim: To document the experience with spinal injuries at Umuahia.
Methods: A  retrospective study of spinal injury (traumatic and non-traumatic)patients admitted into the wards of Federal Medical Centre Umuahia from 1st July 1996 to 30th July   2005, utilizing data from the patients case notes, casualty  and ward registers. Extracted data was analyzed using descriptive statistics
Results: During the period under review, 49 patients met the inclusion criteria. Their ages ranged from 12 to 85 years and there were 40 males and 9 females. There were more traumatic (85.7%) than non-traumatic (14.3%) injuries. The most  common traumatic injuries were motor vehicle accidents and falls from height, while the non-traumatic causes were metastases  from prostate cancer, Pott’s disease of the spine and disc prolapse. No neurological   deficit were noticed in 22.4% but 38.8% had paraplegia and 20.4% had quadriplegia. The most frequently affected vertebrae  were the cervical  and thoracic vertebrae. The treatment was mostly conservative . The most frequent complication were bowel dysfunction, urinary bladder dysfunction , urinary tract infection and pressure ulcers. Ten (20.4%) walked without support, 9(18.4%) discharged against medical advice and 4(8.2%) were discharged on wheel chair. Twenty-two (44.9%) were referred and there were 4 (8.2%) mortalities.
Conclusion: There were more traumatic than non-traumatic injuries. The most common traumatic cause was motor vehicle accidents, while the most common non-traumatic cause was metastases from prostate cancer. There is a need to improve the level of care given to these patients.

Keywords: Spinal injuries, Traumatic, Non-traumatic, Admission, Umuahia


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eISSN: 0795-3038