Reconstructive surgery and patients with spinal cord injury: Perioperative considerations for the plastic surgeon

Academic Article


  • Background: Patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) requiring reconstructive surgery, particularly for pressure ulcers, are ubiquitous in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery practices. Much of the current literature focuses on operative techniques, antibiotic indications, sitting protocols, and dressing and bedding choices. Methods: This paper reviews normal neuroanatomy, outlines changes in neurophysiology observed in spinal cord injury, and addresses concepts related to perioperative care that are highly relevant but often under-emphasised. Results: Vascular disturbances such as autonomic dysreflexia and orthostatic hypotension are dangerous phenomena occurring in this patient population that, if not properly recognised and treated, may result in complications such as haematoma, flap loss, inadequate tissue perfusion, and death. The management of spasticity, deep venous thrombosis, and perioperative pain are also relevant and discussed in this paper. Conclusion: A basic understanding of these concepts is essential for the Plastic Surgeon involved in the care of patients with SCI and pressure ulcers, particularly before and after debridement or reconstruction.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Israel JS; Carlson AR; Bonneau LA; Kempton SJ; King TW; Bentz ML; Afifi AM
  • Start Page

  • 44
  • End Page

  • 49
  • Volume

  • 50
  • Issue

  • 1