Obstetric outcomes in women who sustained a spinal cord injury during pregnancy

Spinal Cord. 2013 Feb;51(2):170-1. doi: 10.1038/sc.2012.125. Epub 2012 Dec 18.


Study design: Case report.

Setting: Prince of Wales Spinal Cord Injuries Unit, Sydney, Australia.

Methods: Interrogation of our unit database identified only two women who became spinal cord injured while pregnant; their medical records were reviewed and an unstructured follow-up telephone interview conducted 6 years after discharge. Case 1: CC sustained a fracture dislocation with paraplegia at the sixth thoracic level (T6) in a motorbike accident while she was pregnant, 12-week gestational age (GA). Profound shock and hypoxia complicated the injury and recurrent urinary tract infections complicated the rest of her pregnancy. A baby with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita was delivered at full term. Severe cerebral palsy (CP) and deafness were present at follow-up 6 years later. Case 2: A 33-year-old multigravida, 27 weeks GA, developed sudden, spontaneous onset of paraplegia (T3 ASIA B) due to an extradural haematoma, which was evacuated on the day of admission. Systolic blood pressure was maintained above 90 mm Hg during and after surgery. A normal, healthy boy was delivered by caesarean section at 40 weeks GA and remained so at 6 years.

Conclusion: Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) with its attendant multiple potential insults to the developing foetus results in a high risk of foetal loss and malformation particularly in the first trimester. However, if the injury occurs later in pregnancy and if blood pressure and oxygenation are maintained, the risk of foetal loss and abnormality may be substantially reduced.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications* / pathology
  • Pregnancy Complications* / physiopathology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / pathology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects* / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*