(HealthDay News) – Spine injuries account for >11% of all casualties among U.S. combat-wounded military in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a study published in the Sept. 15 issue of Spine.

Andrew J. Schoenfeld, MD, from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of casualty records from the Department of Defense Trauma Registry for 2005–2009 to assess the incidence and epidemiology of combat-related spinal injuries for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The researchers identified 872 casualties with spine injuries among a total of 7,877 combat wounded (11.1%), with a mean age of 26.6 years. The most common injury morphology was spine fractures, accounting for 83% of all spinal wounds. The incidence of combat-related spinal trauma was 4.4 per 10,000, while spine fracture incidence was 4 per 10,000. The rate of spinal cord injuries was 4 per 100,000. The incidence of spinal cord injuries was increased in Afghanistan (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 1.96), among Army personnel (IRR, 16.85), and in 2007 (IRR, 1.9). Gunshot-related spinal injuries were significantly more likely to occur in Iraq than Afghanistan (17% vs. 10%; P=0.02).

“The incidence of spine trauma in modern warfare exceeds reported rates from earlier conflicts,” the authors write.

Relevant financial activities outside the submitted work were disclosed.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)