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Carly Weber-Levine, Brendan F. Judy, Andrew M. Hersh, Tolulope Awosika, Yohannes Tsehay, Timothy Kim, Alejandro Chara, and Nicholas Theodore


The authors systematically reviewed current evidence for the utility of mean arterial pressure (MAP), intraspinal pressure (ISP), and spinal cord perfusion pressure (SCPP) as predictors of outcomes after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).


PubMed, Cochrane Reviews Library, EMBASE, and Scopus databases were queried in December 2020. Two independent reviewers screened articles using Covidence software. Disagreements were resolved by a third reviewer. The inclusion criteria for articles were 1) available in English; 2) full text; 3) clinical studies on traumatic SCI interventions; 4) involved only human participants; and 5) focused on MAP, ISP, or SCPP. Exclusion criteria were 1) only available in non-English languages; 2) focused only on the brain; 3) described spinal diseases other than SCI; 4) interventions altering parameters other than MAP, ISP, or SCPP; and 5) animal studies. Studies were analyzed qualitatively and grouped into two categories: interventions increasing MAP or interventions decreasing ISP. The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network level of evidence was used to assess bias and the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach was used to rate confidence in the anticipated effects of each outcome.


A total of 2540 unique articles were identified, of which 72 proceeded to full-text review and 24 were included in analysis. One additional study was included retrospectively. Articles that went through full-text review were excluded if they were a review paper (n = 12), not a full article (n = 12), a duplicate paper (n = 9), not a human study (n = 3), not in English (n = 3), not pertaining to traumatic SCI (n = 3), an improper intervention (n = 3), without intervention (n = 2), and without analysis of intervention (n = 1). Although maintaining optimal MAP levels is the current recommendation for SCI management, the published literature supports maintenance of SCPP as a stronger indicator of favorable outcomes. Studies also suggest that laminectomy and durotomy may provide better outcomes than laminectomy alone, although higher-level studies are needed. Current evidence is inconclusive on the effectiveness of CSF drainage for reducing ISP.


This review demonstrates the importance of assessing how different interventions may vary in their ability to optimize SCPP.