Management of acute traumatic spinal cord injuries

Academic Article


  • Acute traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating disease process affecting tens of thousands of people across the USA each year. Despite the increase in primary prevention measures, such as educational programs, motor vehicle speed limits, automobile running lights, and safety technology that includes automobile passive restraint systems and airbags, SCIs continue to carry substantial permanent morbidity and mortality. Medical measures implemented following the initial injury are designed to limit secondary insult to the spinal cord and to stabilize the spinal column in an attempt to decrease devastating sequelae. This chapter is an overview of the contemporary management of an acute traumatic SCI patient from the time of injury through the stay in the intensive care unit. We discuss initial triage, immobilization, and transportation of the patient by emergency medical services personnel to a definitive treatment facility. Upon arrival at the emergency department, we review initial trauma protocols and the evidence-based recommendations for radiographic evaluation of the patient's vertebral column. Finally, we outline closed cervical spine reduction and various aggressive medical therapies aimed at improving neurologic outcome.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Shank CD; Walters BC; Hadley MN
  • Start Page

  • 275
  • End Page

  • 298
  • Volume

  • 140