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This article has been peer reviewed and is published in BMC Public Health 2011, 11:789. The published version is available at DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-789. ©BioMed Central Ltd.



BACKGROUND: The Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) was designed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to measure, compare, and analyze the burden of various diseases. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study on the assessment of burden of traumatic spinal fracture (TSF) in an Iranian community. We estimated burden of TSF includes both isolated (iTSF) and associated injuries related to traumatic spinal fractures (aTSF) in Tehran, the capital of Iran, for the year 2006-2007 using DALYs.

METHODS: Burden of TSF was estimated based on information provided by the national data on Iranian trauma, data from the WHO, and literature data using disease modeling (DISMOD). Incidence of TSF and associated injuries were obtained from two population based studies and National Trauma Data Bank in Iran, while duration, and relative risk of mortality (RRM) were obtained from WHO data and the literature. The incidence, duration, and relative risk of mortality (RRM) were used to calculate DALY for TSF. To calculate DALY, the years of life lost because of premature mortality (YLL) were added to the number of years lost because of disability (YLD). DALYs were calculated separately for both iTSF and aTSF. In-hospital YLD and post-hospital YLL for iTSF and in-hospital YLL and YLD were calculated for aTSFs.

RESULTS: TSF incidence was 16.35 (95%CI: 3.4-48.0) per 100,000. The incidence of TSF in males was more than twice that of females. The largest DALYs were seen in 15-29 years. The highest burden of associated injuries of TSF was related to spinal cord and head injury. DALYs for aTSF were estimated to be 2496.9 years (32.0 DALY/100,000 population). The YLD and YLL were almost similar. Total DALY for iTSF and aTSF was 2568.9 years (32.92 DALY/100,000 population). Based on the risk extracted from the literature, post-hospital increased risk of mortality was increased by 1318 DALY (16.89 DALY/100,000 population).

CONCLUSION: This study showed a considerable burden for TSFs mainly due to associated injuries and increased lifelong RRM in patients with TSF.