AbstractOBJECTIVEExperimental models and clinical observations of acute spinal cord injury (SCI) support the concepts of primary and secondary injury, in which the initial mechanical insult is succeeded by a series of deleterious events that promote progressive tissue damage and ischemia. Whereas the primary injury is fated by the circumstances of the trauma, the outcome of the secondary injury may be amenable to therapeutic modulation. This article reviews the pathogenetic determinants of these two phases of injury and summarizes the pharmacological manipulations that may restore neurological function after SCI.METHODSExperimental models of SCI and their inherent limitations in simulating human SCI are surveyed. The pathogenesis of primary and secondary injury, as well as the theoretical bases of neurological recovery, are examined in detail. The effects of glucocorticoids, lazeroids, gangliosides, opiate antagonists, calcium channel blockers, glutamate receptor antagonists, antioxidants, free radical scavengers, and other pharmacological agents in both animal models and human trials are summarized. Practical limitations to inducing neural regeneration are also addressed.RESULTSThe molecular events that mediate the pathogenesis of SCI are logical targets for pharmacological manipulation and include glutamate accumulation, aberrant calcium fluxes, free radical formation, lipid peroxidation, and generation of arachidonic acid metabolites. Enhancement of neural regeneration and plasticity comprise other possible strategies.CONCLUSIONPharmacological agents must be given within a narrow window of opportunity to be effective. Although many therapeutic agents show potential promise in animal models, only methylprednisolone has been shown in large, randomized, double-blinded human studies to enhance the functional recovery of neural elements after acute SCI. Future therapy is likely to involve various combinations of these agents.
Neurosurgery – Oxford University Press
Published: May 1, 1999
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