Early complications of high-dose methylprednisolone sodium succinate treatment in the follow-up of acute cervical spinal cord injury

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2001 Feb 15;26(4):426-30. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200102150-00020.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced
  • Lung Diseases / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage*
  • Methylprednisolone / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Spinal Cord / drug effects*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / pathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Methylprednisolone