Epidemiology of Thoracolumbar Spine Trauma in Children

Incidence and Prevalence

Pediatric spine injuries are less common than in adults, accounting for 2–5% of all spine trauma. Thoracolumbar fractures account for 1–2% of all pediatric fractures (8,9,33).

  • 1.1 per 10,000 in USA: The prevalence of pediatric (<20 years old) spinal cord injury of 108 pmp (per million population) in 2009 has grown from 77 pmp in 1997 (22).
  • 6.6 per 10,000 in Finland: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries in children (<18 years old) between 1997 and 2007 was 66 pmp (25).
  • Risk for neurologic deficit decrease with injuries lower in spine: In children, the risk of concomitant neurologic injury varies depending on the spine location. It is the highest in the cervical spine, and decreases in the thoracic spine, with the lumbar spine having the lowest rate (22).

Age Distribution

  • Older children: Children between ages 15 and 20 years have the highest rate of spine injuries (22).

Sex Predilection

  • Young males = young females: The male-to-female ratio of spine injuries is similar in young children (15).
  • Older males > older females: As children get older, males have significantly higher rates of spine injuries compared with females (15).

Geographic Distribution

  • USA: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries with concomitant neurologic injury is 16 pmp in 2009 (<20 years old) (22).
  • Finland: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries with concomitant neurologic injury is 1.9 pmp (<18 years old) (25).
  • Canada: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries with concomitant neurologic injury is 1.0 pmp (<15 years old) (26).
  • Sweden: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries with concomitant neurologic injury is 2.4 pmp (<15 years old) (1).
  • UK: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries with concomitant neurologic injury is 5.2 pmp (<14 years old) (1).
  • Portugal: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries with concomitant neurologic injury is 27 pmp (<14 years old, children dead prior to hospital admission are included) (1).
  • Norway: The prevalence of traumatic spine injuries with concomitant neurologic injury is 1.5 pmp (<15 years old) (1).

Time of year

  • Peaks in summer and in winter break: There is a seasonal variation in the rate of spine injuries, with peaks during summer months and during winter break (33).