J Neurotrauma, Nov 2018

Spinal Cord Blood Flow in Patients with Acute Spinal Cord Injuries

Gallagher MJ, Hogg FRA, Zoumprouli A, Papadopoulos MC, Saadoun S

The effect of traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI) on spinal cord blood flow (SCBF) in humans is unknown. Whether intervention to achieve the recommended mean arterial pressure (MAP) guideline of 85-90 mm Hg improves SCBF is also unclear. Here, we use laser speckle contrast imaging intraoperatively to visualize blood flow at the injury site in 22 patients with acute, severe spinal cord injuries (American Spinal Injuries Association Impairment Scale, grades A-C). In 17 of 22 patients, injury-site metabolism was also monitored with a microdialysis catheter placed intradurally on the surface of the injured cord. We observed three different SCBF patterns, characterized by distinct injury-site metabolic signatures, which we term necrosis-penumbra, hyperperfusion, and patchy-perfusion. The necrosis-penumbra pattern, only observed in thoracic injuries, had a core of low blood flow (necrosis) with regions of intermediate blood flow on either side (penumbra). The hyperperfusion pattern, only observed in cervical injuries, had very high blood flow throughout the injury site. The patchy-perfusion pattern, found in cervical and thoracic injuries, had irregular regions of low, intermediate, and high blood flow. Though intervention to increase MAP by 20 mm Hg increased overall blood flow at the injury site, in 5 of 22 patients, blood flow increased in some regions, but, surprisingly, decreased in other regions. We term this phenomenon blood pressure-induced local steal. In 7 of 19 patients with MAP 85-90 mm Hg, parts of the injury site were only perfused in systole, but not in diastole, which we term diastolic ischemia. We conclude that acute, severe TSCI produces three pathological blood flow patterns at the injury site. Intervention to increase blood pressure may elicit potentially detrimental SCBF responses in some patients.


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