Spinal cord injury (SCI) results in significant morbidity and mortality. Improving neurological recovery by reducing secondary injury is a major principle in the management of SCI. To minimize secondary injury, blood pressure (BP) augmentation has been advocated. The objective of this study was to review the evidence behind BP management after SCI.
This systematic review was conducted following the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Using the PubMed database, the authors identified studies that investigated BP management after acute SCI. Information on BP goals, duration of BP management, vasopressor selection, and neurological outcomes were analyzed.
Eleven studies that met inclusion criteria were identified. Nine studies were retrospective, and 2 were single-cohort prospective investigations. Of the 9 retrospective studies, 7 reported a goal mean arterial pressure (MAP) of higher than 85 mm Hg. For the 2 prospective studies, the MAP goals were higher than 85 mm Hg and higher than 90 mm Hg. The duration of BP management varied from more than 24 hours to 7 days in 6 of the retrospective studies that reported the duration of treatment. In both prospective studies, the duration of treatment was 7 days. In the 2 prospective studies, neurological outcomes were stable to improved with BP management. The retrospective studies, however, were contradictory with regard to the correlation of BP management and outcomes. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and phenylephrine were the agents that were frequently used to augment BP. However, more complications have been associated with dopamine use than with the other vasopressors.
There are no high-quality data regarding optimal BP goals and duration in the management of acute SCI. Based on the highest level of evidence available from the 2 prospective studies, MAP goals of 85–90 mm Hg for a duration of 5–7 days should be considered. Norepinephrine for cervical and upper thoracic injuries and phenylephrine or norepinephrine for mid- to lower thoracic injuries should be considered.