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Minerva Anestesiologica 2021 December;87(12):1347-58

DOI: 10.23736/S0375-9393.21.15753-0


language: English

Perioperative management of spinal cord injury: the anesthesiologist’s point of view

Davide FURLAN 1, Cristian DEANA 2, Daniele ORSO 1, Maurizia LICARI 2, Barbara CAPPELLETTO 3, Amato DE MONTE 2, Luigi VETRUGNO 1, 2 , Tiziana BOVE 1, 2

1 Department of Medicine (DAME), University of Udine, Udine, Italy; 2 Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, ASUFC University Hospital of Udine, Udine, Italy; 3 Section of Spine and Spinal Cord Surgery, Department of Neurological Sciences, ASUFC University Hospital of Udine, Udine, Italy

BACKGROUND: Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is one of the most devastating events a person can experience. It may be life-threatening or result in long-term disability. This narrative review aims to delineate a systematic step-wise airways, breathing, circulation and disability (ABCD) approach to perioperative patient management during spinal cord surgery in order to fill some of the gaps in our current knowledge.
METHODS: We performed a comprehensive review of the literature regarding the perioperative management of traumatic spinal injuries from May 15, 2020, to December 13, 2020. We consulted the PubMed and Embase database libraries.
RESULTS: Videolaryngoscopy supplements the armamentarium available for airway management. Optical fiberscope use should be evaluated when intubating awake patients. Respiratory complications are frequent in the acute phase of traumatic spinal injury, with an estimated incidence of 36-83%. Early tracheostomy can be considered for expected difficult weaning from mechanical ventilation. Careful intraoperative management of administered fluids should be pursued to avoid complications from volume overload. Neuromonitoring requires investments in staff training and cooperation, but better outcomes have been obtained in centers where it is routinely applied. The prone position can cause rare but devastating complications, such as ischemic optic neuropathy; thus, the anesthetist should take the utmost care in positioning the patient.
CONCLUSIONS: A one-size fit all approach to spinal surgery patients is not applicable due to patient heterogeneity and the complexity of the procedures involved. The neurologic outcome of spinal surgery can be improved, and the incidence of complications reduced with better knowledge of patient-specific aspects and individualized perioperative management.

KEY WORDS: Spinal cord injuries; Airway management; Intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring

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