A recently published study suggests that spinal cord injury patients over age 70 are less likely to receive surgery, compared to younger patients.
There is also a significant time lag in older patients between experiencing the injury and having the surgery, according to a press release from Toronto-based St Michael’s Hospital.
The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, per the release.
To determine whether patients over age 70 with spinal cord injuries were managed differently and had different outcomes, main author Henry Ahn, MD, PhD, and his research team studied data from the Rick Hansen Spinal Cord Injury Registry on 1,440 people in Canada who experienced a traumatic spinal cord injury. From the total, 167 (11.7%) of the patients were aged 70 or older, the release explains.
According to the study results, per the release, the older patients were more likely to have fallen compared with younger patients (83.1% versus 37.4%) and to have a longer stay in an acute care hospital. Younger patients were more likely to experience severe injuries resulting in paralysis below the trauma site, whereas older patients had less severe injuries.
The time between injury occurrence and the patient’s arrival at an acute care center was about twice as long for older patients than for younger patients. Once admitted, older patients also waited about twice as long for surgery as younger patients, the release states.
“These delays may be due to delays in recognizing the less severe injuries in seniors, or they may reflect a potential age-related therapeutic bias,” Ahn says in the release.
Older patients were also significantly more likely to die from a traumatic spinal cord injury than their younger counterparts, the release notes.
“These significant differences in injury demographics, timing of surgery, and outcomes in older compared with younger patients necessitates rethinking the management of traumatic spinal cord injury in those in the oldest age group,” Ahn shares in the release.
He and his research team suggest in the release that developing policies with mandated time frames for treatment and management of spinal cord injuries, similar to hip fractures, could improve care and outcomes for these older patients.
[Source(s): St. Michael’s Hospital, EurekAlert]