Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Patterns and Predictors of Firearm-related Spinal Cord Injuries in Adult Trauma Patients

  • Author(s): Mahmassani, Dina;
  • Bachir, Rana;
  • El Sayed, Mazen
  • et al.

Introduction: Firearm-related spinal cord injuries are commonly missed in the initial assessment as they are often obscured by concomitant injuries and emergent trauma management. These injuries, however, have a significant health and financial impact. The objective of this study was to examine firearm-related spinal cord injuries and identify predictors of presence of such injuries in adult trauma patients.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study examined adult trauma patients (≥16 years) with injuries from firearms included in the 2015 United States National Trauma Data Bank. We performed descriptive and bivariate analyses and compared two groups: patients with no spinal cord injury (SCI) or vertebral column injury (VCI); and patients with SCI and/or VCI. Predictors of SCI and/or VCI in patients with firearm-related injuries were identified using a multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: There were 34,898 patients who sustained a firearm-induced injury. SCI and/or VCI were present in 2768 (7.9%) patients. Patients with SCI and/or VCI had more frequently severe injuries, higher Injury Severity Score (ISS), lower mean systolic blood pressure, and lower Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The mortality rate was not significantly different between the two groups (14.7%, N = 407 in SCI and/or VCI vs 15.0%, N = 4,811 in no SCI or VCI group). Significant general positive predictors of presence of SCI and/or VCI were as follows: university hospital; assault; public or unspecified location of injury; drug use; air medical transport; and Medicaid coverage. Significant clinical positive predictors included fractures, torso injuries, blood vessel or internal organ injuries, open wounds, mild (13-15) and moderate GCS scores (9 – 12), and ISS ≥ 16.

Conclusion: Firearm-induced SCI and/or VCI injuries have a high burden on affected victims. The identified predictors for the presence of SCI and/or VCI injuries can help with early detection, avoiding management delays, and improving outcomes. Further studies defining the impact of each predictor are needed.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View