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West African Journal of Medicine

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Complications and Causes of Death in Spinal Cord Injury Patients in Nigeria

AA Kawu, FM Alimi, AAS Gbadegesin, AO Salami, A Olawepo, TG Adebule, H Shamsi

Abstract


Background: There have been many reports on the problems of spinal cord injury (SCI) in Nigeria but few have reported on the complications and causes of death in spinal cord injured patients.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the complications, causes of death and associated risk factors in patients with SCI within six months post injury.
Methods: Patients were retrospectively identified from the hospital trauma database from January 1997 to December 2007. Complications and cause of death within the first six months of SCI were determined along with associated risk factors.
Results: Five hundred and eighty-two patients were eligible for analyses and data were obtained for 422 (72.5%) patients with a mean age of 37.2 (±14.2) years at six months follow-up. Muscle spasms 417 (98.8%) and neurogenic pain 382 (94.5%) were the main complications noted. The mortality during the review period was 144 (34.1%). Respiratory failure (44.4%) was the commonest cause of death. The independent predictors of mortality were mainly age, GCS<9, Frankel Type A at presentation and cervical spine injury (CSI) and while CSI and Frankel Type A injury were the main predictors of complications.
Conclusion: Most common complication and cause of death following SCI are muscle spasm and respiratory failure respectively. The risk factors associated with mortality are age, GCS<9, cervical spinal injury, and complete neurologic injury and those for complications were cervical spinal injury and Frankel Type A injury.



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