Sex disparities in adverse outcomes after surgically managed isolated traumatic spinal injury

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



European journal of trauma and emergency surgery : official publication of the European Trauma Society




Equity; Morbidity; Mortality; Sex disparity; Spinal injury


BACKGROUND: Traumatic spinal injury (TSI) encompasses a wide range of injuries affecting the spinal cord, nerve roots, bones, and soft tissues that result in pain, impaired mobility, paralysis, and death. There is some evidence suggesting that women may have different physiological responses to traumatic injury compared to men; therefore, this study aimed to investigate if there are any associations between sex and adverse outcomes following surgically managed isolated TSI. METHODS: Using the 2013-2019 TQIP database, all adult patients with isolated TSI, defined as a spine AIS ≥ 2 with an AIS ≤ 1 in all other body regions, resulting from blunt force trauma requiring spinal surgery, were eligible for inclusion in the study. The association between the sex and in-hospital mortality as well as cardiopulmonary and venothromboembolic complications was determined by calculating the risk ratio (RR) after adjusting for potential confounding using inverse probability weighting. RESULTS: A total of 43,756 patients were included. After adjusting for potential confounders, female sex was associated with a 37% lower risk of in-hospital mortality [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.63 (0.57-0.69), p < 0.001], a 27% lower risk of myocardial infarction [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.73 (0.56-0.95), p = 0.021], a 37% lower risk of cardiac arrest [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.63 (0.55-0.72), p < 0.001], a 34% lower risk of deep vein thrombosis [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.66 (0.59-0.74), p < 0.001], a 45% lower risk of pulmonary embolism [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.55 (0.46-0.65), p < 0.001], a 36% lower risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.64 (0.54-0.76), p < 0.001], a 34% lower risk of pneumonia [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.66 (0.60-0.72), p < 0.001], and a 22% lower risk of surgical site infection [adjusted RR (95% CI): 0.78 (0.62-0.98), p < 0.032], compared to male sex. CONCLUSION: Female sex is associated with a significantly decreased risk of in-hospital mortality as well as cardiopulmonary and venothromboembolic complications following surgical management of traumatic spinal injuries. Further studies are needed to elucidate the cause of these differences.


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