Is there any gender or age-related discrepancy in the waiting time for each step in the surgical management of acute traumatic cervical spinal cord injury?
Furlan Julio C, B Catharine Craven, Michael G Fehlings
Context/Objective: Prior studies indicate that patient's gender and age can influence treatment choices during spine disease management. This study examines whether individual's gender and age at injury onset influence the waiting time for each step in the surgical management of patients with acute traumatic cervical spinal cord injury (atcSCI). Design: Retrospective cohort study. Setting: Quaternary spine trauma center. Participants: This study included consecutive individuals with atcSCI admitted from August/2002 to October/2008 who were enrolled in the Surgical Trial in Acute Spinal Cord Injury Study (STASCIS). Interventions: Spinal cord decompression. Outcome Measures: Data on the periods of time for each step in the surgical management were analyzed to explore the potential effects of gender and age at injury onset. Results: There were 64 individuals with atcSCI (17 women, 47 men; age range: 18-78 years; mean age: 50.5 ± 2.1 years). Older age was associated with longer stay in the acute spine center, but this association was cofounded by major pre-existing medical co-morbidities. Age did not significantly affect the waiting time for each step in the surgical management of these individuals with atcSCI. Women underwent surgical assessment earlier than men. Gender did not influence other key steps in the surgical management. Conclusion: The study results suggest that older age at injury onset was associated with longer stay in the acute spine care center, and women had a shorter waiting time for surgical assessment than men. Nevertheless, no other age or gender bias was identified in the waiting times for the steps in the management of atcSCI.