Neurologic Improvement After Thoracic, Thoracolumbar, and Lumbar Spinal Cord (Conus Medullaris) Injuries
With approximately 10,000 new spinal cord injury (SCI) patients in the United States each year, predicting public health outcomes is an important public health concern. Combining all regions of the spine in SCI trials may be misleading if the lumbar and sacral regions (conus) have a neurologic improvement at different rates than the thoracic or thoracolumbar spinal cord.
Over a 10-year period between January 1995 to 2005, 1746 consecutive spinal injured patients were seen, evaluated, and treated through a level 1 trauma referral center. A retrospective analysis was performed on 150 patients meeting the criteria of T4 to S5 injury, excluding gunshot wounds. One-year follow-up data were available on 95 of these patients.
Contingency table analyses (chi-squared statistics) and multivariate logistic regression. Variables of interest included level of injury, initial American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA), age, race, and etiology.
A total of 92.9% of lumbar (conus) patients neurologically improved one ASIA level or more compared with 22.4% of thoracic or thoracolumbar spinal cord-injured patients. Only 7.7% of ASIA A patients showed neurologic improvement, compared with 95.2% of ASIA D patients; ASIA B patients demonstrated a 66.7% improvement rate, whereas ASIA C had a 84.6% improvement rate. When the two effects were considered jointly in a multivariate analysis, ASIA A and thoracic/thoracolumbar patients had only a 4.1% rate of improvement, compared with 96% for lumbar (conus) and incomplete patients (ASIA B-D) and 66.7% to 72.2% for the rest of the patients. All of these relationships were significant to P < 0.001 (chi-square test). There was no link to age or gender, and race and etiology were secondary to region and severity of injury.
Thoracic (T4-T9) SCIs have the least potential for neurologic improvement. Thoracolumbar (T10-T12) and lumbar (conus) spinal cord have a greater neurologic improvement rate, which might be related to a greater proportion of lower motor neurons. Thus, defining the exact region of injury and potential for neurologic improvement should be considered in future clinical trial design. Combining all anatomic regions of the spine in SCI trials may be misleading if different regions have neurologic improvement at different rates. Over a ten-year period, 95 complete thoracic/thoracolumbar SCI patients had only a 4.1% rate of neurologic improvement, compared with 96.0% for incomplete lumbar (conus) patients and 66.7% to 72.2% for all others.
SourceAvailable from: Robert R Hansebout[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Object In this prospective study, the authors offered protocol-selected patients a combination of parenteral steroids, decompression surgery, and localized cooling to preserve viable spinal cord tissue and enhance functional recovery. Methods After acquiring informed consent, the authors offered this regimen with localized deep cord cooling (dural temperature 6°C) to 20 patients with a neurologically complete spinal cord injury to begin within 8 hours of injury. After decompression, the cord was locally cooled through the intact dura using a suspended extradural saddle at the site of injury for up to 4 hours, during which time spinal fusion was performed. Sensation and motor function were evaluated directly after the injury and again over a year later. The patients were evaluated using the 2011 amendment to the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale. Results Eighty percent of the 20 patients (12 with cervical and 4 thoracic injuries) with an initial neurologically complete cord injury had some recovery of sensory or motor function. All patients initially had ASIA Grade A impairment. Of 14 patients with quadriplegia, 5 remained ASIA Grade A, 5 improved to ASIA Grade B, 3 to ASIA Grade C, and 1 to ASIA Grade D. The remaining 6 patients had suffered a thoracic spinal cord injury, and of these 2 remained ASIA Grade A, 1 recovered to ASIA Grade B, 2 to ASIA Grade C, and 1 ASIA Grade D. All considered, of 20 patients, 35% remained ASIA Grade A, 30% improved to ASIA Grade B, and 25% to ASIA Grade C. Impairment in 2 (10%) of 20 patients improved to ASIA Grade D. The mean improvement in neurological level of injury in all patients was 1.05, the mean improvement in motor level was 1.7, and the mean improvement in sensory level was 2.8. Two patients recovered the ability to walk, 2 could extend their legs, 5 could sense bladder fullness, and 3 had partial ability to void voluntarily. Four males recovered subnormal ability to have voluntary erection sufficient for limited sexual activity. Conclusions The authors present here results of 20 patients with neurologically complete spinal cord injury treated with a combination of surgical decompression, glucocorticoid administration, and regional hypothermia. These patients experienced a better recovery than might have been expected had traditional forms of treatment been used. The benefit of steroid treatment for cord injury has been debated in the last decade, but the authors feel that research into the effects of cord cooling should be expanded. Given that the optimal neuroprotective temperature after acute trauma has not yet been defined, and may well be below that which is considered safely approachable through systemic cooling, methods that allow for the early attainment of such a temperature locally should be further explored. The results are encouraging enough to suggest the undertaking of controlled clinical trials of treatment using localized spinal cord cooling, where such treatment can be instituted within hours following injury.Journal of neurosurgery. Spine 03/2014; DOI:10.3171/2014.2.SPINE13318 · 2.36 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: ObjectiveTo delineate cervical radiculopathy that is found in combination with traumatic cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) and to determine whether attendant cervical radiculopathy affects the prognosis and functional outcome for SCI patients.MethodsA total of 66 patients diagnosed with traumatic cervical SCI were selected for neurological assessment (using the International Standards for the Neurological Classification of Spinal Cord Injury [ISNCSCI]) and functional evaluation (based on the Korean version Modified Barthel Index [K-MBI] and Functional Independence Measure [FIM]) at admission and upon discharge. All of the subjects received a preliminary electrophysiological assessment, according to which they were divided into two groups as follows: those with cervical radiculopathy (the SCI/Rad group) and those without (the SCI group).ResultsA total of 32 patients with cervical SCI (48.5%) had cervical radiculopathy. The initial ISNCSCI scores for sensory and motor, K-MBI, and total FIM did not significantly differ between the SCI group and the SCI/Rad group. However, at discharge, the ISNCSCI scores for motor, K-MBI, and FIM of the SCI/Rad group showed less improvement (5.44±8.08, 15.19±19.39 and 10.84±11.49, respectively) than those of the SCI group (10.76±9.86, 24.79±19.65 and 17.76±15.84, respectively) (p<0.05). In the SCI/Rad group, the number of involved levels of cervical radiculopathy was negatively correlated with the initial and follow-up motors score by ISNCSCI.ConclusionCervical radiculopathy is not rare in patients with traumatic cervical SCI, and it can impede neurological and functional improvement. Therefore, detection of combined cervical radiculopathy by electrophysiological assessment is essential for accurate prognosis of cervical SCI patients in the rehabilitation unit.08/2014; 38(4):443-9. DOI:10.5535/arm.2014.38.4.443
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The vast majority of combat-related penetrating spinal injuries from gunshot wounds result in severe or complete neurological deficit. Treatment is based on neurological status, the presence of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) fistulas, and local effects of any retained fragment(s). We present a case of a 46-year-old male who sustained a spinal gunshot injury from a 7.62-mm AK-47 round that became lodged within the subarachnoid space at T9-T10. He immediately suffered complete motor and sensory loss. By 24-48 hours post-injury, he had recovered lower extremity motor function fully but continued to have severe sensory loss (posterior cord syndrome). On post-injury day 2, he was evacuated from the combat theater and underwent a T9 laminectomy, extraction of the bullet, and dural laceration repair. At surgery, the traumatic durotomy was widened and the bullet, which was laying on the dorsal surface of the spinal cord, was removed. The dura was closed in a water-tight fashion and fibrin glue was applied. Postoperatively, the patient made a significant but incomplete neurological recovery. His stocking-pattern numbness and sub-umbilical searing dysthesia improved. The spinal canal was clear of the foreign body and he had no persistent CSF leak. Postoperative magnetic resonance imaging of the spine revealed contusion of the spinal cord at the T9 level. Early removal of an intra-canicular bullet in the setting of an incomplete spinal cord injury can lead to significant neurological recovery following even high-velocity and/or high-caliber gunshot wounds. However, this case does not speak to, and prior experience does not demonstrate, significant neurological benefit in the setting of a complete injury.Asian spine journal 02/2015; 9(1):127-32. DOI:10.4184/asj.2015.9.1.127