Article Title

Acute spontaneous spinal cord infarction: Utilisation of hyperbaric oxygen treatment, cerebrospinal fluid drainage and pentoxifylline


Introduction: Spinal cord infarction (SCI) is a potentially devastating disorder presenting with an acute anterior spinal artery syndrome, accounting for an estimated 1% of stroke presentations. Aetiologies include aortic surgical complications, systemic hypotension, fibrocartilaginous embolism and vascular malformations. Diagnosis is clinical combined with restriction on diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There are no treatment guidelines for non-perioperative cases although there is limited literature regarding potential therapies, including hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage. We describe 13 cases of acute SCI, five receiving HBOT, and three also receiving pentoxifylline and drainage of lumbar CSF.

Methods: Data for all patients with MRI-proven SCI at Fiona Stanley Hospital from 2014–2019 were reviewed.

Results: Thirteen patients, median age 57 years (31–74), 54% female, were identified. Aetiologies: two fibrocartilaginous emboli; seven likely atherosclerotic; two thromboembolic; two cryptogenic. All presented with flaccid paraplegia except one with Brown-Sequard syndrome. Levels ranged from C4 to T11. Five patients received HBOT within a median time of 40 hours from symptom onset, with an average 15 treatments (10−20). Three of these received triple therapy (HBOT, pentoxifylline, CSF drainage) and had median Medical Research Council manual muscle testing power of 5, median modified Rankin Score (mRS) of 1 and American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) score of D on discharge, compared with 2 power, mRS 3.5 and ASIA B in those who did not.

Conclusions: SCI can be severely disabling. Triple therapy with pentoxifylline, CSF drainage and HBOT may reduce disability and further prospective trials are required.

Copyright: This article is the copyright of the authors who grant Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine a non-exclusive licence to publish the article in electronic and other forms.


central nervous system, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, infarction, outcome, spinal cord, stroke, treatment

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