Long-term Posttraumatic Survival of Spinal Fracture Patients in Northern Finland

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Study Design.

A retrospective epidemiological study.


To reveal the long-term survival and causes of death after traumatic spinal fracture (TSF) and to determine the possible factors predicting death.

Summary of Background Data.

Increased mortality following osteoporotic spinal fracture has been represented in several studies. Earlier studies concerning mortality after TSF have focused on specific types of fractures, or else only the mortality of the acute phases has been documented. In-hospital mortality has varied between 0.1% and 4.1%.


The study sample of 947 patients including all patients with TSF admitted to Oulu University Hospital, Finland, between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2011. TSFs were identified using International Classification of Diseases 10th revision or Nordic Classification of Surgical Procedures codes and all patient records were manually reviewed. Times and causes of death, obtained from Statistics Finland's Archive of Death Certificates, were available until the end 2016 and 2015, respectively.


At the end of the follow-up 227 (24.0%) had died. Mortality was 6.8% after the first year and 19.1% after 5 years. Mortality was increased in all age groups compared with the general population, 1-year standardized mortality ratios ranging from 3.1 in over 65-year-olds to 19.8 in under 30-year-olds. In age groups of 50 to 64 years and over 65 years, the most important risk factors for death were males with hazard ratios of 3.0 and 1.6, respectively, and low fall as trauma mechanism with hazard ratios of 9.4 and 10.2, respectively.


Traumatic spinal fractures are associated with increased mortality compared with the general population, high mortality focusing especially on older people and men. The increase seems to be comparable to the increase following hip fracture. Patients who sustain spinal fracture due to falling need special attention in care, due to the observation that low fall as trauma mechanism increased the risk of death significantly.


Level of Evidence: 3

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