Patients with actual or potential spinal cord injury (SCI) are frequently seen at adult trauma centers, and a large number of these patients require operative intervention. All polytrauma patients should be assumed to have an SCI until proven otherwise. Pre-hospital providers should take adequate measures to immobilize the spine for all trauma patients at the site of the accident. Stabilization of the spine facilitates the treatment of other major injuries both in and outside the hospital. The presiding goal of perioperative management is to prevent iatrogenic deterioration of existing injury and limit the development of secondary injury whilst providing overall organ support, which may be adversely affected by the injury. This review article explores the anesthetic implications of the patient with acute SCI. A comprehensive literature search of Medline, Embase, Cochrane database of systematic reviews, conference proceedings and internet sites for relevant literature was performed. Reference lists of relevant published articles were also examined. Searches were carried out in October 2010 and there were no restrictions by study design or country of origin. Publication date of included studies was limited to 1990-2010.
Keywords: Anesthesia; airway management; blood loss; coagulation; corticosteroids; medical management; spinal cord injury; trauma.