Object: Evidence-based medicine is used to examine the current treatment options, timing of surgical intervention, and prognostic factors in the management of patients with traumatic central cord syndrome (TCCS).
Methods: A computerized literature search of the National Library of Medicine database, Cochrane database, and Google Scholar was performed for published material between January 1966 and February 2013 using key words and Medical Subject Headings. Abstracts were reviewed and selected, with the articles segregated into 3 main categories: surgical versus conservative management, timing of surgery, and prognostic factors. Evidentiary tables were then assembled, summarizing data and quality of evidence (Classes I-III) for papers included in this review.
Results: The authors compiled 3 evidentiary tables summarizing 16 studies, all of which were retrospective in design. Regarding surgical intervention versus conservative management, there was Class III evidence to support the superiority of surgery for patients presenting with TCCS. In regards to timing of surgery, most Class III evidence demonstrated no difference in early versus late surgical management. Most Class III studies agreed that older age, especially age greater than 60-70 years, correlated with worse outcomes.
Conclusions: No Class I or Class II evidence was available to determine the efficacy of surgery, timing of surgical intervention, or prognostic factors in patients managed for TCCS. Hence, there is a need to perform well-controlled prospective studies and randomized controlled clinical trials to further investigate the optimal management (surgical vs conservative) and timing of surgical intervention in patients suffering from TCCS.