Concomitant spine trauma in patients with traumatic brain injury: Patient characteristics and outcomes

CENTER-TBI investigators and participants, Lennart Riemann, Obada T. Alhalabi, Andreas W. Unterberg, Alexander Younsi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: Spine injury is highly prevalent in patients with poly-trauma, but data on the co-occurrence of spine trauma in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are scarce. In this study, we used the Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research in Traumatic Brain Injury (CENTER-TBI) database to assess the prevalence, characteristics, and outcomes of patients with TBI and a concurrent traumatic spinal injury (TSI).

Methods: Data from the European multi-center CENTER-TBI study were analyzed. Adult patients with TBI (≥18 years) presenting with a concomitant, isolated TSI of at least serious severity (Abbreviated Injury Scale; AIS ≥3) were included. For outcome analysis, comparison groups of TBI patients with TSI and systemic injuries (non-isolated TSI) and without TSI were created using propensity score matching. Rates of mortality, unfavorable outcomes (Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended; GOSe < 5), and full recovery (GOSe 7–8) of all patients and separately for patients with only mild TBI (mTBI) were compared between groups at 6-month follow-up.

Results: A total of 164 (4%) of the 4,254 CENTER-TBI core study patients suffered from a concomitant isolated TSI. The median age was 53 [interquartile range (IQR): 37–66] years and 71% of patients were men. mTBI was documented in 62% of cases, followed by severe TBI (26%), and spine injuries were mostly cervical (63%) or thoracic (31%). Surgical spine stabilization was performed in 19% of cases and 57% of patients were admitted to the ICU. Mortality at 6 months was 11% and only 36% of patients regained full recovery. There were no significant differences in the 6-month rates of mortality, unfavorable outcomes, or full recovery between TBI patients with and without concomitant isolated TSI. However, concomitant non-isolated TSI was associated with an unfavorable outcome and a higher mortality. In patients with mTBI, a negative association with full recovery could be observed for both concomitant isolated and non-isolated TSI.

Conclusion: Rates of mortality, unfavorable outcomes, and full recovery in TBI patients with and without concomitant, isolated TSIs were comparable after 6 months. However, in patients with mTBI, concomitant TSI was a negative predictor for a full recovery. These findings might indicate that patients with moderate to severe TBI do not necessarily exhibit worse outcomes when having a concomitant TSI, whereas patients with mTBI might be more affected.

Original languageEnglish
Article number861688
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Publication statusPublished - 18-Aug-2022


  • outcome
  • spine trauma
  • traumatic brain injury
  • traumatic spine injury


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