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  • Author or Editor: Pavan S. Upadhyayula x
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John K. Yue, Ethan A. Winkler, Jonathan W. Rick, Hansen Deng, Carlene P. Partow, Pavan S. Upadhyayula, Harjus S. Birk, Andrew K. Chan and Sanjay S. Dhall

Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) often occurs in patients with concurrent traumatic injuries in other body systems. These patients with polytrauma pose unique challenges to clinicians. The current review evaluates existing guidelines and updates the evidence for prehospital transport, immobilization, initial resuscitation, critical care, hemodynamic stability, diagnostic imaging, surgical techniques, and timing appropriate for the patient with SCI who has multisystem trauma. Initial management should be systematic, with focus on spinal immobilization, timely transport, and optimizing perfusion to the spinal cord. There is general evidence for the maintenance of mean arterial pressure of > 85 mm Hg during immediate and acute care to optimize neurological outcome; however, the selection of vasopressor type and duration should be judicious, with considerations for level of injury and risks of increased cardiogenic complications in the elderly. Level II recommendations exist for early decompression, and additional time points of neurological assessment within the first 24 hours and during acute care are warranted to determine the temporality of benefits attributable to early surgery. Venous thromboembolism prophylaxis using low-molecular-weight heparin is recommended by current guidelines for SCI. For these patients, titration of tidal volumes is important to balance the association of earlier weaning off the ventilator, with its risk of atelectasis, against the risk for lung damage from mechanical overinflation that can occur with prolonged ventilation. Careful evaluation of infection risk is a priority following multisystem trauma for patients with relative immunosuppression or compromise. Although patients with polytrauma may experience longer rehabilitation courses, long-term neurological recovery is generally comparable to that in patients with isolated SCI after controlling for demographics. Bowel and bladder disorders are common following SCI, significantly reduce quality of life, and constitute a focus of targeted therapies. Emerging biomarkers including glial fibrillary acidic protein, S100β, and microRNAs for traumatic SCIs are presented. Systematic management approaches to minimize sources of secondary injury are discussed, and areas requiring further research, implementation, and validation are identified.