Effectiveness of surgical treatment for traumatic central cord syndrome: Clinical article

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Suzhou University, Suzhou, People's Republic of China.
Journal of Neurosurgery Spine (Impact Factor: 2.38). 02/2009; 10(1):3-8. DOI: 10.3171/2008.9.SPI0822
Source: PubMed


The authors undertook a study in patients with traumatic central cord syndrome (TCCS) who underwent surgical intervention. They retrospectively assessed the motor score improvement and functional status and identified prognostic predictors of improvement.
Between March 1999 and May 2004, 49 patients with TCCS were surgically treated. Motor scores were collected at admission and follow-up using the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale. The 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) was administered. Other parameters including walking index, spasticity, bladder management, and neuropathic pain scores were recorded. Patients were asked to assess their level of satisfaction with their final symptoms.
The average ASIA score, converted into numeric values, was increased from 54.9 at admission to 81.9 and 89.6 at 6 months and final follow-up, respectively. Significant improvement of ASIA score was achieved within the first 6 months of surgery. No significant difference was found between patients who underwent surgery within 4 days of injury or after 4 days of injury, adopting different approaches (anterior, posterior, or a combination), or with different pathological entities (acute disc herniation, fracture or dislocation, or multilevel degeneration). The ASIA score improvement had a positive correlation with the age at injury (r = 0.505, p = 0.023). The SF-36 data at 6 months and final follow-up were not as satisfactory as the improvement in ASIA scores, and almost one-third of patients expressed dissatisfaction with their final symptoms. For patients who were older than 65 years at injury, the mean follow-up Walking Index for Spinal Cord Injury (WISCI) score was statistically lower than it was in younger patients. The presence of spasticity or neuropathic pain at follow-up was not related to age, sex, ASIA motor score, or WISCI outcome.
Surgical intervention can be safely applied in patients with TCCS. Significant improvement of ASIA score was achieved during the first 6-month period of follow-up. Factors including type of lesion, timing of surgery within or after 4 days of injury, and surgical approach were not significantly associated with final ASIA score. The improvement in the ASIA motor score was positively correlated with age at injury. No significant correlation was found between or among the presence of spasticity, neuropathic pain, and ASIA score at final visit. Almost one-third of patients were not satisfied with their final symptoms.

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