Guidelines for the management of spine injuries were published in March 2022 by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) on the ACS Web site and were reviewed and recommended by the American College of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM).
Spinal motion restriction (SMR) can be achieved with a backboard, scoop stretcher, vacuum splint, ambulance cot, or other similar devices. When indicated, it should be applied to the entire spine.
The cervical collar can be discontinued without additional radiographic imaging in an awake, asymptomatic adult trauma patient with (1) a normal neurologic exam, (2) no high-risk injury mechanism, (3) free range of cervical motion, and (4) no neck tenderness. Collar removal is recommended for an adult blunt trauma patient with no neurologic symptoms and a negative helical cervical computed tomography (CT) scan. A negative helical cervical CT scan suffices for collar removal in an adult blunt trauma patient who is obtunded or unevaluable.
Plain radiographs of the cervical and thoracolumbar spine are not recommended in the initial screening of spinal trauma; noncontrast multidetector CT (MDCT) is the initial imaging modality of choice. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the only modality for evaluating the internal structure of the spinal cord.
Management of Injury
Occipital condyle fractures without neural compression or craniocervical misalignment can be managed with a rigid or semirigid cervical orthosis. Treatment of cervical fractures is individualized according to fracture type and patient factors (eg, age). Stable thoracolumbar fractures without neurologic deficits can be treated with adequate pain control and early ambulation without a brace.
The vast majority of penetrating spinal cord injuries (SCIs) result in complete (American Spinal Injury Association [ASIA] A) injuries. Few gunshot SCIs require surgical stabilization. Steroids are not recommended.
Care of Patients With Spinal Cord Injury
Hypotension must be avoided. The use of mean arterial pressure (MAP) goals of 85-90 mm Hg for 7 days must be weighed against data limitations and associated risks. An agent with both alpha- and beta-adrenergic activity is recommended.
The use of methylprednisolone within 8 hours following SCI cannot be definitively recommended. No other potential therapeutic agents have demonstrated efficacy.
Chemoprophylaxis for venous thromboembolism (VTE) should be initiated as early as medically possible (typically ≤72 hr), with duration determined on an individualized basis. Surveillance duplex ultrasonography (US) is not recommended in asymptomatic patients but may be considered in high-risk patients who cannot have chemoprophylaxis during the acute period.
Treatment of persistent bradycardia or intermittent severe bradycardia may include a beta2-adrenergic agonist, chronotropic agents, or phosphodiesterase inhibitors.
Early tracheostomy is recommended to aid in mechanical ventilation in high SCI. Stimulation of the diaphragm should be considered. Open or percutaneous tracheostomy can be performed early after anterior cervical spinal stabilization without increasing the risk of infection or other wound complications.
Pain management is a priority in acute SCI and should be delivered via a multimodal approach.
Symptoms associated with SCI, such as acute autonomic dysreflexia, spasticity, and skin breakdown, should be adequately addressed.
A bowel management program should be initiated for all acute SCI patients. Bladder management should be individualized.
Physical and occupational therapy should be initiated within 1 week after injury for acute SCI patients who are determined to be medically ready.
For more information, please go to C1 (Atlas) Fractures, C2 (Axis) Fractures, Lower Cervical Spine Fractures and Dislocations, Thoracic Spine Fractures and Dislocations, Lumbar Spine Fractures and Dislocations, and Spinal Cord Injuries.
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Cite this: Management of Spine Injury Clinical Practice Guidelines (ACS, 2022) - Medscape - Apr 01, 2022.