Spinal injuries in airborne accidents: a demographic overview of 148 patients in a level-1 trauma center.

Bäcker, Henrik C.; Vosseller, J Turner; Benneker, Lorin; Noger, Markus; Krause, Fabian; Hoppe, Sven; Deml, Moritz C. (2019). Spinal injuries in airborne accidents: a demographic overview of 148 patients in a level-1 trauma center. European spine journal, 28(5), pp. 1138-1145. Springer 10.1007/s00586-019-05951-0

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PURPOSE The purpose of this study was to investigate the type and severity of spinal injury in airborne sports, as well as patients demographics in this unique set of athletes. Paragliding is one of the most popular airborne sports in Switzerland, which thought to be no less dangerous with a high potential for spinal injury. Few studies on spinal column injuries have been performed in these high-risk athletes with only inconsistent findings. METHODS Patient charts were analyzed for all airborne sports injuries affecting the spine from 2010 to 2017 at a level-1 trauma center in Switzerland. To classify the injuries, we used the newest AOSpine classification, ASIA-grading and the injury severity score (ISS). In total, 235 patients were admitted to the emergency department due to an airborne injury. A total of 148 patients (148/235, 63.0%) which were predominantly male (125/235, 84.5%) at a mean age of 39.4 years suffered 334 spinal fractures and 5 spinal contusions. The mean ISS was 17.3, and the L1 vertebra was most commonly affected (47.6% of cases, 68/148). RESULTS A total of 78 patients (54.5% or 78/148) required spine surgery due to instability or neurological deficits (31/148 patients; 20.9%). Concomitant injuries were identified in 64.2% of cases (n = 95). CONCLUSION Due to the increasing popularity of airborne sports, age of patients and severity of injuries (ISS) increased compared with the literature. The thoracolumbal spine is at especially high risk. To prevent further complications, the treatment procedure has to be sought carefully and algorithm should be introduced in clinics to avoid delay in diagnostics and surgery. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE III, retrospective comparative study. These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Orthopaedic, Plastic and Hand Surgery (DOPH) > Clinic of Orthopaedic Surgery

UniBE Contributor:

Bäcker, Henrik Constantin; Benneker, Lorin Michael; Krause, Fabian; Hoppe, Sven and Deml, Moritz Caspar


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Kathrin Aeschlimann

Date Deposited:

31 Oct 2019 10:08

Last Modified:

31 Oct 2019 10:17

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

High traumatic injuries Paragliding Spinal fractures Sports medicine Trauma





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