Impact of US hospital center and interhospital transfer on spinal cord injury management: An analysis of the National Trauma Data Bank.



Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a serious public health problem. Outcomes are determined by severity of immediate injury, mitigation of secondary downstream effects, and rehabilitation. This study aimed to understand how the center type a patient presents to and whether they are transferred influence management and outcome.


The National Trauma Data Bank was used to identify patients with SCI. The primary objective was to determine association between center type, transfer, and surgical intervention. A secondary objective was to determine association between center type, transfer, and surgical timing. Multivariable logistic regression models were fit on surgical intervention and timing of the surgery as binary variables, adjusting for relevant clinical and demographic variables.


There were 11,744 incidents of SCI identified. A total of 2,883 patients were transferred to a Level I center and 4,766 presented directly to a level I center. Level I center refers to level I trauma center. Those who were admitted directly to level I centers had a higher odd of receiving a surgery (odds ratio, 1.703; 95% confidence interval, 1.47-1.97; p < 0.001), but there was no significant difference in terms of timing of surgery. Patients transferred into a level I center were also more likely to undergo surgery than those at a level II/III/IV center, although this was not significant (odds ratio, 1.213; 95% confidence interval, 0.099-1.48; p = 0.059).


Patients with traumatic SCI admitted to level I trauma centers were more likely to have surgery, particularly if they were directly admitted to a level I center. This study provides insights into a large US sample and sheds light on opportunities for improving pre hospital care pathways for patients with traumatic SCI, to provide the timely and appropriate care and achieve the best possible outcomes.

Level of evidence

Care management, Level IV.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Williamson, Theresa, Sarah Hodges, Lexie Zidanyue Yang, Hui-Jie Lee, Mostafa Gabr, Beatrice Ugiliweneza, Maxwell Boakye, Christopher I Shaffrey, et al. (2021). Impact of US hospital center and interhospital transfer on spinal cord injury management: An analysis of the National Trauma Data Bank. The journal of trauma and acute care surgery, 90(6). pp. 1067–1076. 10.1097/ta.0000000000003165 Retrieved from

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Lexie Zidanyue Yang

Biostatistician II

Education: Masters Degree, Biostatistics.  Duke University School of Medicine. 2018

Overview: Lexie graduated from the master’s program in biostatistics at Duke in 2018. Over the past five years, she has collaborated with doctors, residents, fellows, and medical students in the Department of Neurosurgery and Pharmacy. Additionally, she is currently working with a faculty member in Surgery to investigate the impact of environmental factors on certain diseases. Lexie has extensive experience in data management with large databases, including MarketScan, HCUP, and CMS Medicare. She has also worked with EHR data and has experience with data extraction from DEDUCE and CRDM. Her statistical interests include longitudinal analysis, mediation analysis, survival analysis and latent class analysis.

Educational Background
Master of Biostatistics
Duke University (Durham, NC, USA) 2016-2018

Bachelor of Science
Mathematics, Statistics
University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison, WI, USA) 2013-2016
Shandong University (Shandong, China) 2011-2013


Courtney Rory Goodwin

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, Radiation Oncology, Orthopedic Surgery.
Director of Spine Oncology,
Associate Residency Program Director
Third Year Study Program Director Neurosciences, Duke University School of Medicine
Director of Spine Metastasis, Duke Center for Brain and Spine Metastasis, Department of Neurosurgery
Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University Medical Center


Muhammad Abd-El-Barr

Associate Professor of Neurosurgery

As a Neurosurgeon with fellowship training in Spine Surgery, I have dedicated my professional life to treating patients with spine disorders. These include spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, herniated discs and spine tumors. I incorporate minimally-invasive spine (MIS) techniques whenever appropriate to minimize pain and length of stay, yet not compromise on achieving the goals of surgery, which is ultimately to get you back to the quality of life you once enjoyed. I was drawn to medicine and neurosurgery for the unique ability to incorporate the latest in technology and neuroscience to making patients better. I will treat you and your loved ones with the same kind of care I would want my loved ones to be treated with. In addition to my clinical practice, I will be working with Duke Bioengineers and Neurobiologists on important basic and translational questions surrounding spinal cord injuries (SCI), which we hope to bring to clinical relevance.

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