Background: The incidence of spinal injury with spinal cord contusion is high in developed countries and is now growing in China. Furthermore, spinal cord injury happens mostly in young people who have a long life expectance. A large number of patients thus are wheelchair bound for the rest of their lives. Therefore, spinal cord injury has aroused great concern worldwide. Despite great efforts, recovery from spinal coral injury remains unsatisfactory. Based on the pathology of spinal cord contusion, an idea of early neurosurgical intervention has been formulated in this study. Methods: A total of 30 patients with "complete" spinal cord injury or classified as American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA)-A were studied. Orthopedic treatment of the injured vertebra(e), internal fixation of the vertebral column, and bilateral laminectomy for epidural decompression were followed directly by neurosurgical management, including separation of the arachnoid adhesion to restore cerebrospinal fluid flow and debridement of the spinal cord necrotic tissue with concomitant intramedullary decompression. Rehabilitation started 17 days after the operation. The final outcome was evaluated after 3 months of rehabilitation. Pearson chi-square analysis was used for statistical analysis. Results: All the patients recovered some ability to walk. The least recovered patients were able to walk with a wheeled weight support and help in stabilizing the weight bearing knee joint (12 cases, 40%). Thirteen patients (43%) were able to walk with a pair of crutches, a stick or without any support. The timing of the operation after injury was important. An optimal operation time window was identified at 4-14 days after injury. Conclusions: Early neurosurgical intervention of spinal cord contusion followed by rehabilitation can significantly improve the locomotion of the patients. It is a new idea of a therapeutic approach for spinal cord contusion and has been proven to be very successful.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Spinal cord