Efficacy of Early (≤ 24 Hours), Late (25–72 Hours), and Delayed (>72 Hours) Surgery with Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Confirmed Decompression in American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale Grades C and D Acute Traumatic Central Cord Syndrome Caused by Spinal Stenosis Academic Article uri icon

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  • The therapeutic significance of timing of decompression in acute traumatic central cord syndrome (ATCCS) caused by spinal stenosis remains unsettled. We retrospectively examined a homogenous cohort of patients with ATCCS and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evidence of post-treatment spinal cord decompression to determine whether timing of decompression played a significant role in American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor score (AMS) 6 months following trauma. We used the t test, analysis of variance, Pearson correlation coefficient, and multiple regression for statistical analysis. During a 19-year period, 101 patients with ATCCS, admission ASIA Impairment Scale (AIS) grades C and D, and an admission AMS of ≤95 were surgically decompressed. Twenty-four of 101 patients had an AIS grade C injury. Eighty-two patients were males, the mean age of patients was 57.9 years, and 69 patients had had a fall. AMS at admission was 68.3 (standard deviation [SD] 23.4); upper extremities (UE) 28.6 (SD 14.7), and lower extremities (LE) 41.0 (SD 12.7). AMS at the latest follow-up was 93.1 (SD 12.8), UE 45.4 (SD 7.6), and LE 47.9 (SD 6.6). Mean number of stenotic segments was 2.8, mean canal compromise was 38.6% (SD 8.7%), and mean intramedullary lesion length (IMLL) was 23 mm (SD 11). Thirty-six of 101 patients had decompression within 24 h, 38 patients had decompression between 25 and 72 h, and 27 patients had decompression >72 h after injury. Demographics, etiology, AMS, AIS grade, morphometry, lesion length, surgical technique, steroid protocol, and follow-up AMS were not statistically different between groups treated at different times. We analyzed the effect size of timing of decompression categorically and in a continuous fashion. There was no significant effect of the timing of decompression on follow-up AMS. Only AMS at admission determined AMS at follow-up (coefficient = 0.31; 95% confidence interval [CI]:0.21; p = 0.001). We conclude that timing of decompression in ATCCS caused by spinal stenosis has little bearing on ultimate AMS at follow-up.


  • Aarabi, Bizhan
  • Akhtar-Danesh, Noori
  • Simard, J Marc
  • Chryssikos, Timothy
  • Shanmuganathan, Kathirkamanathan
  • Olexa, Joshua
  • Sansur, Charles A
  • Crandall, Kenneth M
  • Wessell, Aaron P
  • Cannarsa, Gregory
  • Sharma, Ashish
  • Lomangino, Cara D
  • Boulter, Jason
  • Scarboro, Maureen
  • Oliver, Jeffrey
  • Ahmed, Abdul Kareem
  • Wenger, Nicole
  • Serra, Riccardo
  • Shea, Phelan
  • Schwartzbauer, Gary T

publication date

  • April 6, 2021