Study Design. A population based, epidemiological study.
Objective. To investigate incidence of spinal and spinal cord injuries and their surgical treatment in children and adolescents in Finland.
Summary of Background Data. Epidemiological data on spinal injuries and their treatment in children is sparse.
Methods. All spinal and spinal cord injuries in children under 18 years of age treated in hospital between 1997 and 2006 in Finland were included. The data on injuries, hospitalizations, and surgical treatment were collected from the National Hospital Discharge Register which includes all in-patient treatment episodes. Fatal spinal injuries were derived from the Official Cause-of-Death Statistics of Finland.
Results. The overall incidence of spinal injuries remained stable during the follow-up period, averaging 66 per 106 of the reference population aged below 18 years. The proportions of cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine injuries altered with age: 64% of spinal injuries in children below 8 years of age were cervical, while in the older children lumbar (42%) and thoracic spine injuries (33%) were more common than cervical. The incidence of spinal cord injuries averaged 1.9 per 106 children. Thirty percent of the children with spinal injury underwent surgery. The annual incidence of fatal spinal injury averaged 2.4 per 106 children.
Conclusion. Pediatric spinal and spinal cord injuries are rare. In contrast to previous literature, the most commonly affected area is lumbar spine. One-third of the children with spinal injury underwent surgery.