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J Neurosurg. 2002 Jul;97(1 Suppl):25-32.

Traumatic central cord syndrome: results of surgical management.

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Division of Neurological Surgery, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona 85013-4496, USA.



The authors compare clinical outcomes demonstrated in patients with traumatic central cord syndrome (CCS) who underwent early (< or = 24 hours after injury) or late (> 24 hours after injury) surgery.


The clinical characteristics, radiographic findings, surgery-related results, length of hospital stay (LOS), and clinical outcomes obtained in 50 patients with surgically treated traumatic CCS were reviewed retrospectively. Shorter intensive care unit (ICU) stay and LOS were observed in all patients who underwent early surgery compared with those who underwent late surgery. In patients with CCS secondary to acute disc herniation or fracture/dislocation who underwent early surgery significantly greater overall motor improvement was observed than in those who underwent late surgery (p = 0.04). Overall motor outcome in patients with CCS secondary to spinal stenosis or spondylosis who underwent early surgery was not significantly different from that in those who underwent late surgery (p = 0.51). Worse motor outcomes were found in patients who were older than 60 years of age and in whom initial bladder dysfunction was present (p = 0.03 and 0.02, respectively) compared with younger patients without bladder dysfunction.


Early surgery is safe and more cost effective than late surgery for the treatment of traumatic CCS, based on ICU stay and LOS and improved overall motor recovery, in patients whose CCS was related to acute disc herniation or fracture. In the setting of spinal stenosis or spondylosis, early surgery was safe but did not improve motor outcome compared with late surgery.

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