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Does the Timing of Surgery to Treat Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Affect Outcomes?

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New Rochelle, NY — Performing surgery to take pressure off the spine after a traumatic injury soon after the event could prevent or reverse some of the secondary damage caused by swelling and decreased blood flow to the injured spine.

However, strong evidence to support early spinal surgery is lacking, mainly because the available study data cannot be easily compared, as explained in a review of this controversial field published in Journal of Neurotrauma, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Neurotrauma website.

Joost van Middendorp, Allard Hosman, and Suhail Doi, Stoke Mandeville Hospital (Aylesbury, UK), University of Oxford, UK, University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia), and Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center (the Netherlands), performed a systematic review of the literature on spinal decompression surgery following traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).

Although debate continues over the effects of the timing of surgery, the authors found that “early” compared to “late” spinal surgery was associated with significantly greater motor and neurological improvement and shorter length of hospital stay. As the authors report, though, the evidence supporting early spinal surgery “lack robustness” due to various sources of bias within the studies and heterogeneity within and between the studies. For example, the studies being compared include patients with various severities and levels of spinal cord injuries.

They report their findings in “The Effects of the Timing of Spinal Surgery after Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”

“This timely article contributes additional data and discussion to the general topic of decompression surgery as an effective strategy to protect against traumatic SCI,” says W. Dalton Dietrich, III, PhD, Deputy Editor of Journal of Neurotrauma and Kinetic Concepts Distinguished Chair in Neurosurgery, Professor of Neurological Surgery, Neurology and Cell Biology, University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. “This well done meta-analysis of published data should therefore be of great interest to the readership of the Journal, including spinal surgeons.”

About the Journal
Journal of Neurotrauma is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published 24 times per year in print and online that focuses on the latest advances in the clinical and laboratory investigation of traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. Emphasis is on the basic pathobiology of injury to the nervous system, and the papers and reviews evaluate preclinical and clinical trials targeted at improving the early management and long-term care and recovery of patients with traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neurotrauma is the official journal of the National Neurotrauma Society and the International Neurotrauma Society. Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the Journal of Neurotrauma website.

About the Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Therapeutic Hypothermia and Temperature Management, Tissue Engineering, and Brain Connectivity. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.

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