Managing Acute Spinal Cord Injuries

Stephanie Kube, DVM, DACVIM, Natasha Olby, VetMB, PhD, DACVIMCompendium, September 2008

Acute spinal cord injuries commonly seen in veterinary patients include vascular, compressive, and concussive injuries. Vascular lesions, or infarcts, are usually caused by fibrocartilagenous emboli. Concussive and compressive injuries have a variety of pathologies, including intervertebral disk disease, fractures, and luxations (dislocations) of the vertebral column. Although considerable controversy exists over the most appropriate way to manage acute spinal cord injuries, early surgical intervention or decompression remains the best treatment option in managing acute compressive injuries in veterinary patients. High-dose methylprednisolone sodium succinate, an established treatment in human medicine, is falling out of favor because studies have shown little therapeutic benefit and severe adverse effects.

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