PURPOSE: The optimal surgical timeframe for neurological recovery in traumatic spinal cord injury (tSCI) still remains unknown. Recent guidelines have recommended performing surgery within 24 h for all patients with tSCI regardless of initial neurological deficit. It remains unclear whether patients with complete, incomplete tSCI, or traumatic central cord injury (TCCI) will experience the same degree of improvement after urgent surgical intervention. We investigated if the severity of initial neurological injury influenced surgeons on their decision-making of surgical timing in tSCI.
METHODS: With a web-based survey, we investigated the current opinion in The Netherlands on timing of surgical decompression and stabilization, depending on the initial degree of neurological injury.
RESULTS: Surgeons prefer to perform more urgent surgery for incomplete tSCI compared to complete tSCI. In addition, 43% of patients with complete tSCI are not preferably operated within the recommended 24 h. Even though TCCI is the most common form of incomplete tSCI, these patients are preferably managed less urgently than patients with other types of incomplete tSCI.
CONCLUSION: The severity of initial neurological injury seems to play an important role in the urgency of surgical timing for tSCI. A substantial number of patients with complete tSCI are not preferably treated within the recommended surgical timeframe, while patients with incomplete tSCI are preferably operated far more urgent than recommended in the current guidelines. These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.