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Neurology Research International
Volume 2012, Article ID 417834, 6 pages
Review Article

Controversies in the Surgical Management of Spinal Cord Injuries

Department of Neurological Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Mail Code CH8N, Portland, OR 97239, USA

Received 17 November 2011; Accepted 7 March 2012

Academic Editor: Peter van den Bergh

Copyright © 2012 Ahmed M. Raslan and Andrew N. Nemecek. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) affects over 200,000 people in the USA and is a major source of morbidity, mortality, and societal cost. Management of SCI includes several components. Acute management includes medical agents and surgical treatment that usually includes either all or a combination of reduction, decompression, and stabilization. Physical therapy and rehabilitation and late onset SCI problems also play a role. A review of the literature in regard to surgical management of SCI patients in the acute setting was undertaken. The controversy surrounding whether reduction is safe, or not, and whether prereduction magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to rule out traumatic disc herniation is essential is discussed. The controversial role of timing of surgical intervention and the choice of surgical approach in acute, incomplete, and acute traumatic SCI patients are reviewed. Surgical treatment is an essential tool in management of SCI patients and the controversy surrounding the timing of surgery remains unresolved. Presurgical reduction is considered safe and essential in the management of SCI with loss of alignment, at least as an initial step in the overall care of a SCI patient. Future prospective collection of outcome data that would suffice as evidence-based is recommended and necessary.