Tushar Narayan Rathod, Ashwin Hemant Sathe, Nandan Amrit Marathe, S. S. Mohanty, Prashant Kamble, Bhushan Hadole, Abhinandan Reddy Mallepally

October 2021, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 3081 - 3088 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06804-5

First Online: 22 March 2021


To analyse factors influencing functional outcome and neurological recovery in patients undergoing delayed surgery for traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) involving thoracolumbar spine.


Retrospective analysis of 33 patients with thoracolumbar SCI who underwent delayed surgery (≥ 72hrs post-trauma) with a minimum follow-up of 1 year (average:32.55 months) was done. The parameters studied included age, sex, co-morbidities, mode of trauma, associated trauma, level and number of vertebrae involved, fracture morphology, thoracolumbar injury classification and severity score (TLICS), maximal spinal cord compression (MSCC), signal changes in the cord, neurological deficit as per the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scale, lower extremity motor score (LEMS), bowel bladder involvement, time interval between trauma and surgery.


Mean time interval from injury to spine surgery was 24.45 days. At the end of 1-year follow-up, 17(51.5%), 12(36.36%), and 3(9.1%) patients had ≥ 1, ≥ 2, and ≥ 3-grade ASIA improvement, respectively. The mean LEMS rose to 33.86 from 17.09 (P < 0.001). 8 out of 20 patients with bladder involvement showed improvement. 4 patients succumbed, 22 were ambulatory, and 7 remained non-ambulatory. On comparing various parameters, pre-operative LEMS score (P-value: < 0.001), cord signal changes (P-value:0.002), and presence of cord transection (P-value:0.007) differed significantly in the above-mentioned three groups, while age (P-value:0.442), average TLICS (P-value:0.872), time from injury to surgery (P-value:0.386) did not differ significantly.


This study highlights that there is still a significant scope for neurological improvement even after delayed surgery in patients with thoracolumbar SCI. The lower the LEMS score at the time of presentation, signal changes in the cord and presence of cord transection have a significant influence on unfavourable clinical outcomes at the end of 1-year post-surgery.

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