The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of intrathecal tetracaine (a sodium channel blocker) with those of moderate hypothermia on glutamate concentrations of intrathecal dialysate, hindlimb motor functions, and histopathology in spinal cord ischemia. New Zealand White rabbits implanted with an intrathecal dialysis probe were assigned to one of the three groups (seven in each): control (temperature 38 degrees C), tetracaine (tetracaine 0.5%, 0.6 mL, given intrathecally 30 min before ischemia, 38 degrees C), or moderate hypothermia (32 degrees C). Spinal cord ischemia (20 min) was produced by occlusion of the abdominal aorta during isoflurane (1%) anesthesia. Glutamate concentrations significantly increased during ischemia in all groups, but the levels in the moderate hypothermia group were significantly lower than those in the control and tetracaine groups. Neurologic status (24 and 48 h after reperfusion) and histopathology (48 h) in the moderate hypothermia group were significantly better than in the other two groups. There were no significant differences between the tetracaine and control groups in either glutamate concentrations, neurologic status, or histopathology. We conclude that intrathecal tetracaine does not provide any protection against ischemic spinal cord injury, whereas moderate hypothermia does.
Implications: Sodium channel blockers, including local anesthetics, have been shown to reduce glutamate release in brain ischemia and have a neuroprotective effect. However, in the present study, intrathecal tetracaine did not attenuate either glutamate release or the neurologic or histopathologic outcome in spinal cord ischemia, whereas moderate hypothermia did.