Surgical and nonsurgical treatment of penetrating spinal cord injury: Analysis of Long-term Neurological and Functional Outcomes

Academic Article


  • Objective: To describe long-term neurological and functional outcomes for patients with penetrating spinal cord injury (PSCI) following surgical (SX) and nonsurgical (NSX) treatment. Methods: We identified all patients with PSCI in the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems database from 1994-2015. Patients with PSCI were divided into surgical (SX) and nonsurgical (NSX) groups. Outcomes were measured using the International Standards for Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury (ISNCSCI) and the Functional Independence Measure (FIM) motor scores. Outcomes were then analyzed separately for patients with complete and incomplete PSCI during acute hospitalization, SCI rehabilitation, and 1-year follow-up. Results: For patients with complete PSCI, acute hospital length of stay (LOS) was increased in the SX group (19 days vs 14 days; p < .0001) while median FIM motor scores were similar at 1-year follow-up (74 vs 75; p = .4). The percentage of patients with complete PSCI remained similar between groups at discharge from SCI rehabilitation (88% vs 88%; p = 0.5). For patients with incomplete PSCIs, acute hospital LOS was similar between groups (13 vs 11; p = .3) and no difference was observed in ASIA Impairment Scale improvement at discharge from rehabilitation (38% vs 37%; p = .9) or in FIM scores at 1 year (84 vs 85; p = .6). Conclusion: Surgery for patients with complete PSCI is associated with increased acute hospital LOS for complete PSCI and is not associated with improvement in neurological or functional outcomes in patients with either complete or incomplete PSCI.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Kelly ML; Roach MJ; Nemunaitis G; Chen Y
  • Start Page

  • 186
  • End Page

  • 193
  • Volume

  • 25
  • Issue

  • 2