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Timing of Surgical Decompression for Acute Traumatic Cervical Spinal Cord Injury: A Multicenter Study

Chen, Qi PhD; Li, Feng PhD; Fang, Zhong PhD; Zhang, Zhenguo PhD; Zhang, Yong MPhil; Wu, Wei MM; Yao, Guangqin MM

doi: 10.1097/WNQ.0b013e31823852ac
Original Articles

Objective: To investigate the timing of surgical decompression for acute traumatic cervical spinal cord injury.

Methods: A total of 295 cases were extracted and assigned into 3 groups on the basis of the timing of surgery: the urgent group (within 8 h), the early group (8 to 48 h), and the delayed group (after 48 h). Neurological outcomes and medical complications before the operation, after the operation, at 6 months, and at 1 year were compared.

Results: Patients in the urgent group derived immediate neurological benefits after surgery, whereas patients in the early group recovered gradually. The final neurological outcomes of both groups were the same. No neurological improvement was observed in the delayed group. The same morbidities of medical complications were observed after the operation. However, complications were seen less commonly in the urgent and the early groups than in the delayed group after 6 months and 1 year.

Conclusions: Urgent and early surgical decompression can improve neurological outcomes and lower morbidities of complications, the former being more effective.

Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

This study was funded by Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China and supported by Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Original data were provided by Wuhan Tongji Hospital, Beijin Military Region General Hospital, Beijin Chaoyang Hospital, Shanghai Changzhen Hospital, Xi’an Xijin Hospital, and Changsha Xiangya Hospital.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Feng Li, PhD, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Tongji Hospital, 1095 Jiefang Road, Wuhan 430030, China (e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.