The number of cervical spine injuries (CSIs) is increasing. Cervical spine injuries are associated with high morbidity and mortality. Identifying those who are at risk for CSI-related death can help develop national and international interventions and policies to reduce mortality.
This study aimed to determine the trends in the incidence and the characteristics of fatal CSIs in Finland over a 24-year study period from 1987 to 2010.
A large nationwide, retrospective, register-based study was carried out.
The population-based sample was collected from death certificates issued in Finland between 1987 and 2010. The death certificates were obtained from the official Cause-of-Death Register, coordinated by Statistics Finland, which covers all deaths occurring in Finland.
Sociodemographics and injury- and death-related data were used for outcome measures.
All death certificates issued in Finland (1987-2010) containing a CSI as the cause of death were carefully reviewed.
A total of 2,041 fatal CSIs were identified. These constituted 0.17% of all deaths in Finland within the study period. The average annual incidence of fatal CSIs was 16.5 per million (range: 12.5-21.2). The majority of the victims were male (72.9%) and had concurrent spinal cord injury (83.0%). Traffic accidents (40.1%) and falls (45.0%) were the most common injury mechanisms. Almost one-third (29.8%) of the deaths were alcohol-related. Among the young victims (