Controversies in cervical spine trauma: The role of timing of surgical decompression and the use of methylprednisolone sodium succinate in spinal cord injury. A narrative and updated systematic review

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Traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCIs) have devastating physical, social, and financial consequences for both patients and their families. SCIs most frequently occur at the cervical spine level, and these injuries are particularly prone to causing debilitating functional impairments. Unfortunately, no effective neuroregenerative therapeutic approaches capable of reversing lost neurologic and functional impairments exist, resulting in a large number of patients living with the persistent disability caused by a chronic cervical SCI. Over the past decades, a multitude of nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic neuroprotective strategies have been intensely investigated, including the timing of surgical decompression and the role of methylprednisolone sodium succinate (MPSS) in patients with acute SCI. These strategies have been the source of vibrant debate surrounding their potential risks and benefits. Our aim in this combined narrative and updated systematic review is to provide an assessment on the timing of surgical decompression as well as the role of high-dose MPSS treatment in patients with traumatic SCIs, with a special emphasis on the cervically injured subpopulation. Based on the current literature, there is strong evidence to support early surgical decompression within 24 h of injury to promote enhanced neurologic recovery. Meanwhile, moderate evidence supports the early initiation of a 24-h high-dose MPSS treatment within 8 h of injury, particularly in patients with a cervical SCI.






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Hejrati, N, B Rocos and M Fehlings (2022). Controversies in cervical spine trauma: The role of timing of surgical decompression and the use of methylprednisolone sodium succinate in spinal cord injury. A narrative and updated systematic review. Indian Spine Journal, 5(1). pp. 47–68. 10.4103/ISJ.ISJ_26_21 Retrieved from

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Brett Rocos

Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I joined the team at Duke University Health from London, UK, where I was a Consultant Adult and Paediatric Spine Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust and Honorary Consultant Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. I completed my surgical training in in the South West of the UK and at the University of Toronto, and am fellowship trained in adult spine surgery, paediatric spine surgery, orthopaedic trauma surgery, research and healthcare management.

I am driven to support patients at every stage of their care, from clinic assessment, through surgery to discharge. Making sure that every person, adult, child, family or friend understands what’s wrong, helping them to choose the right treatment for them, and what the recovery will be like is an important priority.

My research activity focusses on finding effective new treatments for spinal disorders and bringing them to patients. Focusing on spinal deformity, I have led investigations in the UK, Canada and the USA, and I sit on the Global AO Knowledge Forum for Deformity and the Research Grants Committee at the Scoliosis Research Society. I have lectured in North America and Europe about the treatment of spine disorders for the Scoliosis Research Society, Global Spine Congress, AO Spine and Eurospine, and I have worked hard to produce research that improves the care for spine patients wherever they live. Lastly, I review for several orthopaedic journals and I am Deputy Editor of the Bone and Joint 360, a leading publication with a global readership.

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