An acute spinal cord injury is a sudden injury that results in a bruise, partial injury or complete injury of the spinal cord that demands immediate medical attention. The location and severity of a patient’s spinal cord injury presents surgeons with a multitude of decision-making and treatment challenges.
There are only a few proven treatments a surgeon can attempt that will reduce the amount of damage in a patient who presents with a spinal cord injury (SCI), according to Alexander R. Vaccaro, MD, PhD, MBA president of Rothman Institute and Chairman of Orthopaedics at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia.
“The most important thing is to follow the basic tenants of advanced life trauma support, the ABCs — airway, breathing, circulation. Let us assume you do everything you can to maintain life, and the patient makes it to your institution. There are several treatments that have been associated with preserving neurologic function and optimizing neurologic outcomes. The first is to increase blood pressure. Most studies have shown if we can keep the perfusion to the spinal cord at 85 mm Hg, we can often prevent a worsening of one’s neurological profile,” Vaccaro told Spine Surgery Today.
Regaining stability of the spine is just as important since a contused spinal cord can cause significant neurological worsening.