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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 51  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 507--511

Missile injuries of the spine

Department of Neurosurgery, Army Hospital (R & R), Delhi Cantt - 110010, India

Correspondence Address:
H S Bhatoe
Department of Neurosurgery, Army Hospital (R & R), Delhi Cantt - 110010
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Between 1995 and 2000, 22 cases with low velocity missile injuries of the spine and spinal cord were treated in three service hospitals. All were adult males, with a mean age of 30.7 years. The wounds were caused by splinters in 18 (82%) and bullets in 4 (18%). Twelve patients received more than one splinter. The cervical and thoracic spines were most frequently involved. In 7 cases, there were injuries to other organs. There was extensive initial deficit (quadriplegia, paraplegia) in 18 (82%) cases, while 4 (18%) had partial deficits. The patients were evaluated by spine radiographs. Myelography was done in 4, CT myelography in 11 and MRI in 4 patients. Two patients had intramedullary hematoma without any skeletal injury, and were treated conservatively. Seventeen patients were treated operatively, and associated injuries of other organs received priority management. Surgery was in the form of debridement, exploration of the spinal cord, hemostasis, decompression and dural repair. Steroids and antibiotics were given routinely. Three patients (2 with cervical and 1 with thoracic spine injury) died preoperatively, and 1 (with dorsolumbar injury) died in the postoperative period due to multi-organ injury. Patients with complete injury remained completely paralyzed, while those with an incomplete injury showed improvement in their neurological grades. The initial neurological grade is the best prognostic indicator, and these injuries are often accompanied by multi-organ injuries. There was no instance of postoperative meningitis or CSF leak. These injuries should be explored for debridement and dural repair.


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Online since 20th March '04
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow