• A Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Patients With Acute Spinal Cord Injury: Recommendations on the Type and Timing of Anticoagulant Thromboprophylaxis

      Fehlings, M.G.; Tetreault, L.A.; Aarabi, B. (SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017)
      Introduction: The objective of this study is to develop evidence-based guidelines that recommend effective, safe and cost-effective thromboprophylaxis strategies in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted to address key questions relating to thromboprophylaxis in SCI. Based on GRADE (Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation), a strong recommendation is worded as “we recommend,” whereas a weaker recommendation is indicated by “we suggest.” Results: Based on conclusions from the systematic review and expert panel opinion, the following recommendations were developed: (1) “We suggest that anticoagulant thromboprophylaxis be offered routinely to reduce the risk of thromboembolic events in the acute period after SCI;” (2) “We suggest that anticoagulant thromboprophylaxis, consisting of either subcutaneous low-molecular-weight heparin or fixed, low-dose unfractionated heparin (UFH) be offered to reduce the risk of thromboembolic events in the acute period after SCI. Given the potential for increased bleeding events with the use of adjusted-dose UFH, we suggest against this option;” (3) “We suggest commencing anticoagulant thromboprophylaxis within the first 72 hours after injury, if possible, in order to minimize the risk of venous thromboembolic complications during the period of acute hospitalization.” Conclusions: These guidelines should be implemented into clinical practice in patients with SCI to promote standardization of care, decrease heterogeneity of management strategies and encourage clinicians to make evidence-informed decisions. Copyright The Author(s) 2017.
    • A Clinical Practice Guideline for the Management of Patients With Acute Spinal Cord Injury: Recommendations on the Type and Timing of Rehabilitation

      Fehlings, M.G.; Tetreault, L.A.; Aarabi, B. (SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017)
      Introduction: The objective of this study is to develop guidelines that outline the appropriate type and timing of rehabilitation in patients with acute spinal cord injury (SCI). Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted to address key questions related to rehabilitation in patients with acute SCI. A multidisciplinary guideline development group used this information, and their clinical expertise, to develop recommendations for the type and timing of rehabilitation. Based on GRADE (Grading of Recommendation, Assessment, Development and Evaluation), a strong recommendation is worded as “we recommend,” whereas a weaker recommendation is indicated by “we suggest. Results: Based on the findings from the systematic review, our recommendations were: (1) We suggest rehabilitation be offered to patients with acute spinal cord injury when they are medically stable and can tolerate required rehabilitation intensity (no included studies; expert opinion); (2) We suggest body weight–supported treadmill training as an option for ambulation training in addition to conventional overground walking, dependent on resource availability, context, and local expertise (low evidence); (3) We suggest that individuals with acute and subacute cervical SCI be offered functional electrical stimulation as an option to improve hand and upper extremity function (low evidence); and (4) Based on the absence of any clear benefit, we suggest not offering additional training in unsupported sitting beyond what is currently incorporated in standard rehabilitation (low evidence). Conclusions: These guidelines should be implemented into clinical practice to improve outcomes and reduce morbidity in patients with SCI by promoting standardization of care, decreasing the heterogeneity of management strategies and encouraging clinicians to make evidence-informed decisions. Copyright The Author(s) 2017.
    • Efficacy of Ultra-Early (< 12 h), Early (12-24 h), and Late (>24-138.5 h) Surgery with Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Confirmed Decompression in American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale Grades A, B, and C Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

      Aarabi, B.; Chryssikos, T.; Shanmuganathan, K.; Schwartzbauer, G.T.; Simard, J.M.; Olexa, J.; Sansur, C.A.; Crandall, K.M.; Mushlin, H.; Kole, M.J.; et al. (Mary Ann Liebert Inc., 2020)
      In cervical traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI), the therapeutic effect of timing of surgery on neurological recovery remains uncertain. Additionally, the relationship between extent of decompression, imaging biomarker evidence of injury severity, and outcome is incompletely understood. We investigated the effect of timing of decompression on long-term neurological outcome in patients with complete spinal cord decompression confirmed on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Impairment Scale (AIS) grade conversion was determined in 72 AIS grades A, B, and C patients 6 months after confirmed decompression. Thirty-two patients underwent decompressive surgery ultra-early (< 12 h), 25 underwent decompressive surgery early (12-24 h), and 15 underwent decompressive surgery late (> 24-138.5 h) after injury. Age, gender, injury mechanism, intramedullary lesion length (IMLL) on MRI, admission ASIA motor score, and surgical technique were not statistically different among groups. Motor complete patients (p = 0.009) and those with fracture dislocations (p = 0.01) tended to be operated on earlier. Improvement of one grade or more was present in 55.6% of AIS grade A, 60.9% of AIS grade B, and 86.4% of AIS grade C patients. Admission AIS motor score (p = 0.0004) and pre-operative IMLL (p = 0.00001) were the strongest predictors of neurological outcome. AIS grade improvement occurred in 65.6%, 60%, and 80% of patients who underwent decompression ultra-early, early, and late, respectively (p = 0.424). Multiple regression analysis revealed that IMLL was the only significant variable predictive of AIS grade conversion to a better grade (odds ratio, 0.908; confidence interval [CI], 0.862-0.957; p < 0.001). We conclude that in patients with post-operative MRI confirmation of complete decompression following cervical TSCI, pre-operative IMLL, not the timing of surgery, determines long-term neurological outcome. Copyright Bizhan Aarabi et al., 2020
    • Extent of Spinal Cord Decompression in Motor Complete (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale Grades A and B) Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury Patients: Post-Operative Magnetic Resonance Imaging Analysis of Standard Operative Approaches

      Aarabi, B.; Olexa, J.; Chryssikos, T. (Mary Ann Liebert Inc., 2019)
      Although decompressive surgery following traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) is recommended, adequate surgical decompression is rarely verified via imaging. We utilized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze the rate of spinal cord decompression after surgery. Pre-operative (within 8 h of injury) and post-operative (within 48 h of injury) MRI images of 184 motor complete patients (American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale [AIS] grade A = 119, AIS grade B = 65) were reviewed to verify spinal cord decompression. Decompression was defined as the presence of a patent subarachnoid space around a swollen spinal cord. Of the 184 patients, 100 (54.3%) underwent anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF), and 53 of them also underwent laminectomy. Of the 184 patients, 55 (29.9%) underwent anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion (ACCF), with (26 patients) or without (29 patients) laminectomy. Twenty-nine patients (16%) underwent stand-alone laminectomy. Decompression was verified in 121 patients (66%). The rates of decompression in patients who underwent ACDF and ACCF without laminectomy were 46.8% and 58.6%, respectively. Among these patients, performing a laminectomy increased the rate of decompression (72% and 73.1% of patients, respectively). Twenty-five of 29 (86.2%) patients who underwent a stand-alone laminectomy were found to be successfully decompressed. The rates of decompression among patients who underwent laminectomy at one, two, three, four, or five levels were 58.3%, 68%, 78%, 80%, and 100%, respectively (p < 0.001). In multi-variate logistic regression analysis, only laminectomy was significantly associated with successful decompression (odds ratio 4.85; 95% confidence interval 2.2-10.6; p < 0.001). In motor complete TSCI patients, performing a laminectomy significantly increased the rate of successful spinal cord decompression, independent of whether anterior surgery was performed. ©2018 Bizhan Aarabi et al.
    • Intramedullary lesion length on postoperative magnetic resonance imaging is a strong predictor of ASIA impairment scale grade conversion following decompressive surgery in cervical spinal cord injury

      Aarabi, B.; Sansur, C.A.; Ibrahimi, D.M. (Oxford University Press, 2017)
      BACKGROUND: Evidence indicates that, over time, patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) improve neurologically in various degrees. We sought to further investigate indicators of grade conversion in cervical SCI. OBJECTIVE: To detect predictors of ASIA impairment scale (AIS) grade conversion in SCI following surgical decompression. METHODS: In a retrospective study, demographics, clinical, imaging, and surgical data from 100 consecutive patients were assessed for predictors of AIS grade conversion. RESULTS: American Spinal Injury Association motor score was 17.1. AIS grade was A in 52%, B in 29%, and C in 19% of patients. Surgical decompression took place on an average of 17.6 h following trauma (≤12 h in 51 and >12 h in 49). Complete decompression was verified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 73 patients. Intramedullary lesion length (IMLL) on postoperative MRI measured 72.8 mm, and hemorrhage at the injury epicenter was noted in 71 patients. Grade conversion took place in 26.9% of AIS grade A patients, 65.5% of AIS grade B, and 78.9% of AIS grade C. AIS grade conversion had statistical relationship with injury severity score, admission AIS grade, extent of decompression, presence of intramedullary hemorrhage, American Spinal Injury Association motor score, and IMLL. A stepwise multiple logistic regression analysis indicated IMLL was the sole and strongest indicator of AIS grade conversion (odds ratio 0.950, 95% CI 0.931-0.969). For 1- and 10-mm increases in IMLL, the model indicates 4% and 40% decreases, respectively, in the odds of AIS grade conversion. CONCLUSION: Compared with other surrogates, IMLL remained as the only predictor of AIS grade conversion.
    • Trends in Demographics and Markers of Injury Severity in Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

      Aarabi, B.; Albrecht, J.S.; Simard, J.M.; Chryssikos, T.; Schwartzbauer, G.; Sansur, C.A.; Crandall, K.; Gertner, M.; Howie, B.; Wessell, A.; et al. (Mary Ann Liebert Inc., 2021-02-26)
      Over the past four decades, there have been progressive changes in the epidemiology of traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI). We assessed trends in demographic and injury-related variables in traumatic cervical spinal cord injury (tCSCI) patients over an 18-year period at a single Level I trauma center. We included all magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed tCSCI patients ≥15 years of age for years 2001-2018. Among 1420 patients, 78.3% were male with a mean age 51.5 years. Etiology included falls (46.9%), motor vehicle collisions (MVCs; 34.2%), and sports injuries (10.9%). Median American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) Motor Score (AMS) was 44, complete tCSCI was noted in 29.6% of patients, fracture dislocations were noted in 44.7%, and median intramedullary lesion length (IMLL) was 30.8 mm (complete injuries 56.3 mm and incomplete injuries 27.4 mm). Over the study period, mean age and proportion of falls increased (p < 0.001) whereas proportion attributable to MVCs and sports injuries decreased (p < 0.001). Incomplete injuries, AMS, and the proportion of patients with no fracture dislocations increased whereas complete injuries decreased significantly. IMLL declined (p = 0.17) and proportion with hematomyelia did not change significantly. In adjusted regression models, increase in age and decreases in prevalence of MVC mechanism and complete injuries over time remained statistically significant. Changes in demographic and injury-related characteristics of tCSCI patients over time may help explain the observed improvement in outcomes. Further, improved clinical outcomes and drop in IMLL may reflect improvements in initial risk assessment and pre-hospital management, advances in healthcare delivery, and preventive measures including public education. Copyright Bizhan Aarabi et al. 2021; Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.