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Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1993 Mar 20;123(11):443-8.

[Acute-stage para- and tetraplegia].

[Article in French]

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Centre romand des paraplégiques, Genève.


A quarter of a century ago, in October 1964, the first spinal cord injury center in Switzerland was opened at Geneva University Hospital. At that time all para- and tetraplegics were classified as "high-risk" patients. Early mortality, covering the initial four weeks following trauma, was still around 15%. The available resources for diagnostic assessment were limited to clinical examination and neuroradiological assessment (subsequently improved by the introduction of tomography and gas myelography). A great many patients suffered a deteriorated neurological level due to inadequate, multiple transfers between hospitals. Most patients who are paralyzed following a road-traffic accident show severe polytrauma. Their chances of survival and functional recovery have greatly improved in recent years due to efficient emergency transport by helicopter, admission to an intensive care unit (respiratory therapy, prophylactic anticoagulation, gastrointestinal cytoprotection, prevention of pressure sores, etc.) and a comprehensive medico-surgical team approach (orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, ICU specialists, internists, etc.). Evaluation of the spine and spinal cord by NMR and CT scan allows precise assessment of the extent of CNS damage and provides additional guide-lines regarding efficient surgical reposition and spinal fusion. Ongoing experimental research in neurophysiology and neurobiochemistry of the brain and spinal cord is presently yielding some interesting results which hold out new hopes for functional recovery in some specific types of incomplete spinal cord trauma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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