Study design: A prospective, randomized, and double-blind study comparing high-dose methylprednisolone sodium succinate (MPSS) with placebo, in the treatment of patients with acute cervical spinal cord injury.
Objectives: To evaluate the complications of high-dose MPSS in patients with acute cervical spinal cord injury when administered within 8 hours of injury.
Summary of background data: High-dose therapy with MPSS has been demonstrated to improve the recovery of motor function in patients with acute cervical spinal cord injury. However, little is known about the follow-up complications.
Methods: Forty-six patients, 42 men and 4 women (mean age, 60.6 years; range, 18-84), were included in the study: 23 in the MPSS group and 23 in the placebo group. They were treated without surgery for spinal cord injury in the cervical spine, and were enrolled in the trial if a diagnosis had been made and treatment had begun within 8 hours. Complications of high-dose therapy with MPSS were compared with placebo treatment throughout the study period and up to 2 months after injury.
Results: The MPSS group had 13 patients (56.5%) with complications, whereas the placebo group had 8 (34.8%). The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant (P = 0.139). There were eight instances of pulmonary complication with MPSS (34.8%) and one instance (4.34%) with placebo (P = 0.009). There were four instances of gastrointestinal complication (17.4%) with MPSS and none with placebo (P = 0.036). Pulmonary (complications were more prevalent in patients aged more than 60 years (P = 0.029).
Conclusion: Aged patients with cervical spinal injury may be more likely to have pulmonary side effects (P = 0.029) after high-dose therapy with MPSS and thus deserve special care.