Respiratory care of patients with cervical spinal cord injury: a review

Crit Care Resusc. 2012 Mar;14(1):64-73.


Respiratory complications following cervical spinal cord injury are common and are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality after this type of injury. Impaired mechanics of ventilation, poor cough, increased secretions and bronchospasm predispose to atelectasis, pneumonia and exacerbations of respiratory failure. Prolonged mechanical ventilation and tracheostomy are often required. This review discusses the relevant pathophysiology, various ventilatory strategies and timing of tracheostomy, and examines the evidence surrounding physiotherapeutic and pharmacological treatment options.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Respiration Disorders / therapy*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*
  • Tracheostomy