Title

Non-operative management is superior to surgical stabilization in spine injury patients with complete neurological deficits: A perspective study from a developing world country, Pakistan.

Document Type

Article

Department

Neurosurgery

Abstract

Background:Surgical stabilization of injured spine in Patients with complete spinal cord injury is a common practice despite the lack of strong evidence supporting it. The aim of this study is to compare clinical outcomes and cost-effectiveness of surgical stabilization versus conservative management of spinal injury in Patients with complete deficits, essentially from a developing country's point of view.

Methods:

A detailed analysis of Patients with traumatic spine injury and complete deficits admitted at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Pakistan, from January 2004 till January 2010 was carried out. All Patients presenting within 14 days of injury were divided in two groups, those who underwent stabilization procedures and those who were managed non-operatively. The two groups were compared with the endpoints being time to rehabilitation, length of hospital stay, 30 day morbidity/mortality, cost of treatment, and status at follow up.

Results:

Fifty-four Patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria and half of these were operated. On comparing endpoints, Patients in the operative group took longer time to rehabilitation (P-value = 0.002), had longer hospital stay (P-value = 0.006) which included longer length of stay in special care unit (P-value = 0.002) as well as intensive care unit (P-value = 0.004), and were associated with more complications, especially those related to infections (P-value = 0.002). The mean cost of treatment was also significantly higher in the operative group (USD 6,500) as compared to non-operative group (USD 1490) (P-value < 0.001).

Conclusion:

We recommend that Patients with complete SCI should be managed non-operatively with a provision of surgery only if their rehabilitation is impeded due to pain or deformity.

Publication

Surgical Neurology International