Purpose of review
Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries continue to be a public health problem. These types of injuries often occur in early adulthood and have a major impact for society. This review discusses strategies and therapeutic agents for perioperative neuroprotection in the management of brain and spinal cord trauma.
There are no definitive drugs or strategies that can be utilized to provide perioperative neuroprotection in brain and spinal cord trauma patients. Phase III trials of several pharmacologic agents, including inhibitors of oxidative and excitotoxic injury, have been unable to demonstrate clinical efficacy. Although experimental animal data for hypothermia have been promising over the years, clinical application of therapeutic hypothermia cannot be recommended for routine use in neurotrauma patients. Administration of methylprednisolone, which has become common practice in acute spinal cord injury, has come under close scrutiny. Various experimental animal investigations suggest that potential therapeutic agents include estrogen, progesterone, minocycline, erythropoietin, and magnesium.
The main priority in the initial treatment of brain and spinal cord trauma is to maintain oxygenation and perfusion in order to avoid aggravating secondary injury. Future progress will depend on the translation of neuroprotective strategies into well designed clinical trials with promising outcomes.