Marcel A. Kopp, Tom Lübstorf, Christian Blex, Jan M. Schwab, Ulrike Grittner, Thomas Auhuber, Axel Ekkernkamp, Andreas Niedeggen, Erik Prillip, Magdalena Hoppe, Johanna Ludwig, Martin Kreutzträger, Thomas Liebscher

January 2022, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 56 - 69 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06982-2

First Online: 17 September 2021

Association of age with the timing of acute spine surgery-effects on neurological outcome after traumatic spinal cord injury


To investigate the association of age with delay in spine surgery and the effects on neurological outcome after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).


Ambispective cohort study (2011–2017) in n = 213 patients consecutively enrolled in a Level I trauma center with SCI care in a metropolitan region in Germany. Age-related differences in the injury to surgery interval and conditions associated with its delay (> 12 h after SCI) were explored using age categories or continuous variables and natural cubic splines. Effects of delayed surgery or age with outcome were analyzed using multiple logistic regression.


The median age of the study population was 58.8 years (42.0–74.6 IQR). Older age (≥ 75y) was associated with a prolonged injury to surgery interval of 22.8 h (7.2–121.3) compared to 6.6 h (4.4–47.9) in younger patients (≤ 44y). Main reasons for delayed surgery in older individuals were secondary referrals and multimorbidity. Shorter time span to surgery (≤ 12 h) was associated with higher rates of ASIA impairment scale (AIS) conversion (OR 4.22, 95%CI 1.85–9.65), as mirrored by adjusted spline curves ( 60 h


Older patient age complexifies surgical SCI care and research. Tackling secondary referral to Level I trauma centers and delayed spine surgery imposes as tangible opportunity to improve the outcome of older SCI patients.

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