Spine, May 2013

Current practice of methylprednisolone administration for acute spinal cord injury in Germany: a national survey

Druschel C, Schaser KD, Schwab JM



Written mail-out survey.


To determine current practice in high-dose methylprednisolone succinate (MPSS) administration for treatment of acute spinal cord injury (SCI) in Germany.


Reanalysis of the National Acute Spinal Cord Injury Studies (NASCIS) resulted in criticism of the use of high-dose MPSS for treatment of acute SCI. Subsequently, SCI treatment guidelines were revised leading to a reduction in MPSS use across North America. The impact of these revisions on SCI treatment in Germany is not known.


A questionnaire was sent to all trauma, orthopedic and neurosurgical departments of German university centers, affiliated teaching hospitals, and specialized SCI care centers. Survey included 6 questions about the administration of MPSS after acute SCI.


Three hundred seventy-two respondents completed the survey (response rate: 51% overall, 76% university hospitals, 85% specialized SCI care centers). Overall, 55% of departments that treat SCI prescribe MPSS. Among them, 73% are "frequent" users administering MPSS to more than 50% of their patients. Ten percent prescribe according to NASCIS I, 43% NASCIS II, 33% NASCIS III, and 13% "generic protocols." As justification for MPSS treatment, "effectiveness" ranked before "common practice" and "medicolegal reasons." "Specialized" SCI care centers differ in that (1) MPSS is administered less frequently, (2) NASCIS I doses are not used, and (3) during the past several years, practice patterns are more likely to have shifted away from the treatment of SCI with MPSS.


About one-half of the institutions continue to prescribe MPSS in the setting of acute SCI. A need for further education in almost one-fourth of German departments treating acute SCI is demonstrated through responses indicating use of the outdated NASCIS I protocol, a "legal need" or "unchanged MPSS application during the last years." "Specialized" SCI centers are more likely to change their practice in accordance with evolving literature.


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