The effect of operative timing on functional outcome after isolated spinal trauma

Greg D. Sacks, Jaykar R. Panchmatia, Miguel Marino, Caterina Hill, Selwyn O. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background:: To evaluate the effect of operative timing on functional outcome in patients suffering spinal trauma, we conducted a retrospective analysis of the National Trauma Data Bank. By treating time to operation as a categorical variable and limiting our analysis to isolated spinal trauma, we hypothesized that time to operation would not be a predictor of functional outcome. Methods:: The National Trauma Data Bank was queried for all patients with isolated spinal trauma who underwent spinal fixation or decompression. Functional outcomes at the time of hospital discharge were measured using Functional Independent Motor Locomotion Score. Generalized ordered logistic model was used to determine the effect of time until operation on functional outcomes. Gender, age, injury severity, the level of trauma center, and the presence of spinal cord injury were included as covariates. Result:: Of the final sample of 1,848 patients (mean age 44.3 years), 78% were White and 71% male. Fifty-seven percent of patients had Injury Severity Score between 8 and 15, with the remainder having Injury Severity Score ≤8. Forty-five percent were treated at a Level I trauma center. Using generalized ordered logistic regression, time to operation was not a significant predictor of functional outcomes, whereas treatment at Level I trauma centers seemed to confer marginally better outcomes. CONCLUSIONS:: In patients with isolated spinal trauma, time until spinal operation does not seem to be an important predictor of functional outcome at the time of hospital discharge. Operative timing, at the discretion of the surgeon, needs to consider the risks and benefits associated with delayed versus emergent operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1668-1672
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Functional outcome
  • Neurologic outcome
  • Operative timing
  • Spinal trauma
  • Trauma center
  • Trauma level designation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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