Osteopenia is common in the elderly, increasing their risk of sustaining cervical fractures after ground level falls (GLFs). We sought to examine the incidence of blunt cerebrovascular injury (BCVI) and subsequent stroke in elderly GLF patients as compared with other higher injury mechanisms.
The Trauma Quality Improvement Program database (2011-2016) was used to identify blunt trauma patients with isolated (other body region abbreviated injury scale <3) cervical spine (C1-C7) fractures. Patients were stratified into three groups: nonelderly patients (<65) with all mechanisms of injury, elderly patients (≥65) with GLF, and elderly patients with all other mechanism of injury. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine predictors for BCVI, stroke, spinal cord injury, and acute kidney injury.
Seventeen thousand six hundred twenty-eight patients with cervical spine injuries were identified. BCVI was highest in the <65 group (0.8%) and lowest in elderly patients with GLF (0.3%, P = 0.001). When controlling for other factors, elderly patients with GLF were less likely to sustain BCVI (adjusted odds ratio: 0.46, P = 0.03) but had comparable rates of stroke attributable to BCVI (18.2% versus 6.5%, P = 0.184) and comparable rate of acute kidney injury compared with elderly patients with other mechanism of injury.
In elderly patients with isolated cervical spine fracture after GLF, BCVI occurs less frequently but is associated with a comparable rate of stroke as compared with other mechanisms. Low injury mechanism should not preclude BCVI screening in the presence of cervical spine fractures.
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