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29.05.2018 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 12/2018

International Orthopaedics 12/2018

Specific spinal pathologies in adult patients with an acute or subacute atraumatic low back pain in the emergency department

Zeitschrift:
International Orthopaedics > Ausgabe 12/2018
Autoren:
Aleksi Reito, Kati Kyrölä, Liisa Pekkanen, Juha Paloneva

Abstract

Purpose

The primary aim in the evaluation of patients presenting with acute or subacute low back pain (LBP) is to exclude a possible specific spinal pathology. Literature on the population-based incidences of these pathologies is scarce. The aim of our study was to investigate the population-based incidence of specific spinal pathologies as a cause of atraumatic acute or subacute LBP.

Methods

From our institutional database, we identified all patients with a relevant LBP-related ICD-10 code during a visit to our emergency department (ED) in a level II/III teaching hospital between January 2012 and December 2014. Patients with a possible specific spinal pathology (cauda equina syndrome, spondylodiscitis, vertebral fracture, and cancer) were assessed in detail.

Results

A total of 900 visits were due to atraumatic low back pain. Of these 284 (31.6%) were due to nonspecific LBP, and 583 (64.8%) due to radicular pain suggesting nerve root compression. In 33 (3.7%) cases, the LBP was caused by a specific spinal pathology. The annual incidences per 100,000 were 0.60 for CES, 2.1 for spondylodiscitis, 0.76 for cancer and 1.2 for compression fracture.

Conclusions

The incidences of specific spinal pathologies were low. Given that LBP is a very common symptom, it is not surprising that the accuracy of red flag symptoms is poor. Each patient should be considered individually, and we advocate a low threshold for referral and advanced imaging in cases where a specific spinal pathology is suspected.

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