Brian Kwon, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Use and Effect of Vasopressors Following Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Funded in: 2014, 2015, 2016

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Problem: After spinal cord injury, the blood pressure and the perfusion pressure within the injured cord needs to be optimized to protect the spinal tissue

Target: Altering the blood pressure using different drugs and monitoring the blood flow and tissue pressure within the spinal cord

Goal: A scientific rational basis for drug selection in the management of the acute care of SCI patients.

Optimizing the perfusion of the injured spinal cord is one of the few treatments that physicians today can offer to individuals with acute spinal cord injuries. This is typically done with vasopressor drugs such as norepinephrine, phenylephrine, or dopamine (or some combination). While all can be used to increase blood pressure, it is not clear which of these drugs provides the best restoration of blood flow within the injured cord.

The  hypothesis is that these drugs – each of which is commonly used clinically in the treatment of acute SCI patients – have different effects on spinal cord blood flow and downstream metabolic responses. This will be  tested  in a novel animal model of SCI in which the spinal cord tissue itself can be monitored while the blood pressure is being supported with these different drugs.  It can be tested which drug is best for restoring perfusion to the injured cord.
These results will provide a scientific basis for drug selection in acute SCI. While this is not necessarily a novel drug or biological therapy, it has immediate practical relevance to the management of acute SCI patients.