Prospective, population-based study. This paper is part of the Stockholm Thessaloniki Acute Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Study (STATSCIS).
To evaluate and compare outcomes, length of stay (LOS), associated conditions and medical complications at 1-year post-trauma.
The Greater Thessaloniki region, Greece, and the Greater Stockholm region, Sweden. While Stockholm follows a SCI system of care, Thessaloniki follows a fragmented 'non-system' approach.
Out of the 87 cases in Thessaloniki and the 49 cases in Stockholm who comprised the study population of STATSCIS, 75 and 42 cases respectively were successfully followed-up during the first year post-trauma.
Significantly superior outcomes (that is, survival with neurological recovery, functional ability and discharge to home) and shorter LOS for initially motor complete cases occurred in Stockholm. Management routines known to increase long-term morbidity, for example, long-term tracheostomy and indwelling urethral catheters were significantly more common in Thessaloniki. Major medical complications, that is, multiple pressure ulcers, heterotopic ossification and bacteremia/sepsis were more frequent in Thessaloniki.
Our findings show how two rather similar cohorts of TSCI manifest large discrepancies in terms of 1-year outcomes and complications, depending on the type of management they receive. As the major difference between regions was the presence or absence of a SCI system of care, rather than differences in availability of modern medicine, the mere presence of the latter does not seem to be sufficient to guarantee adequate outcomes. This study provides strong evidence as to the urgent need of implementing a SCI system of care in Greece.