An analysis of ideal and actual time to surgery after traumatic spinal cord injury in Canada
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STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of a prospective registry and surgeon survey. OBJECTIVES: To identify surgeon opinion on ideal practice regarding the timing of decompression/stabilization for spinal cord injury and actual practice. Discrepancies in surgical timing and barriers to ideal timing of surgery were explored. SETTING: Canada. METHODS: Patients from the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Registry (RHSCIR, 2004-2014) were reviewed to determine actual timing of surgical management. Following data collection, a survey was distributed to Canadian surgeons, asking for perceived to be the optimal and actual timings of surgery. Discrepancies between actual data and surgeon survey responses were then compared using χ2 tests and logistic regression. RESULTS: The majority of injury patterns identified in the registry were treated operatively. ASIA Impairment Scale (AIS) C/D injuries were treated surgically less frequently in the RHSCIR data and surgeon survey (odds ratio (OR)= 0.39 and 0.26). Significant disparities between what surgeons identified as ideal, actual current practice and RHSCIR data were demonstrated. A great majority of surgeons (93.0%) believed surgery under 24 h was ideal for cervical AIS A/B injuries and 91.0% for thoracic AIS A/B/C/D injuries. Definitive surgical management within 24 h was actually accomplished in 39.0% of cervical and 45.0% of thoracic cases. CONCLUSION: Ideal surgical timing for traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI) within 24 h of injury was identified, but not accomplished. Discrepancies between the opinions on the optimal and actual timing of surgery in tSCI patients suggest the need for strategies for knowledge translation and reduction of administrative barriers to early surgery.
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