Delays in Presentation After Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury–A Systematic Review

Tej D. Azad, Sumil K. Nair, Anita L. Kalluri, Joshua Materi, A. Karim Ahmed, Jawad Khalifeh, Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, Lisa N. Sharwood, Robert C. Sterner, Nathaniel P. Brooks, Safwan Alomari, Farah N. Musharbash, Kevin Mo, Daniel Lubelski, Timothy F. Witham, Nicholas Theodore, Ali Bydon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Prompt surgical decompression after traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) may be associated with improved sensorimotor outcomes. Delays in presentation may prevent timely decompression after TSCI. Objective: To systematically review existing studies investigating delays in presentation after TSCI in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and high-income countries (HICs). Methods: A systematic review was conducted and studies featuring quantitative or qualitative data on prehospital delays in TSCI presentation were included. Studies lacking quantitative or qualitative data on prehospital delays in TSCI presentation, case reports or series with <5 patients, review articles, or animal studies were excluded from our analysis. Results: After exclusion criteria were applied, 24 studies were retained, most of which were retrospective. Eleven studies were from LMICs and 13 were from HICs. Patients with TSCI in LMICs were younger than those in HICs, and most patients were male in both groups. A greater proportion of patients with TSCI in studies from LMICs presented >24 hours after injury (HIC average proportion, 12.0%; LMIC average proportion, 49.9%; P = 0.01). Financial barriers, lack of patient awareness and education, and prehospital transportation barriers were more often cited as reasons for delays in LMICs than in HICs, with prehospital transportation barriers cited as a reason for delay by every LMIC study included in this review. Conclusions: Disparities in prehospital infrastructure between HICs and LMICs subject more patients in LMICs to increased delays in presentation to care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e121-e130
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • Delays
  • Global health
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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