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Spinal Cord Injuries Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
 
Updated: May 12, 2016
 
 

Diagnostic Considerations

Attributing hypotension to neurogenic shock in the setting of spinal cord injury (SCI) is a potentially devastating error. As noted under Clinical, before hypotension can be attributed to neurogenic shock, a diligent search for sources of hemorrhage must be completed. Shock may be hemorrhagic, neurogenic, or both in patients with acute spinal cord injury.

The presence of vital sign confusion in acute spinal cord injury coupled with the limitations of the physical examination can make the diagnosis of hemorrhage from associated injuries challenging.

Also consider other conditions in patients with suspected spinal cord injury, such as transverse myelitis, acute intervertebral disk herniation, and extradural spinal cord compression.

Differential Diagnoses

 
 
Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS Robert B and Molly G King Endowed Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, State University of New York Upstate Medical University

Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association for Cancer Research, Children's Oncology Group, Society for Neuro-Oncology, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Segun Toyin Dawodu, JD, MD, MS, MBA, LLM, FAAPMR, FAANEM Attending Interventional Physiatrist, Wellspan Health

Segun Toyin Dawodu, JD, MD, MS, MBA, LLM, FAAPMR, FAANEM is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Sports Medicine, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Royal College of Surgeons of England, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American Medical Association, American Medical Informatics Association, Association of Academic Physiatrists, International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Fassil B Mesfin, MD, PhD Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Director of Complex Spine and Spine Oncology Program, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine

Fassil B Mesfin, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association for Cancer Research, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American Medical Association, National Medical Association, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Academy of Neurological Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Brian H Kopell, MD Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Brian H Kopell, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, North American Neuromodulation Society

Disclosure: Received consulting fee from Medtronic for consulting; Received consulting fee from St Jude Neuromodulation for consulting; Received consulting fee from MRI Interventions for consulting.

Acknowledgements

Denise I Campagnolo, MD, MS Director of Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Research and Staff Physiatrist, Barrow Neurology Clinics, St Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center; Investigator for Barrow Neurology Clinics; Director, NARCOMS Project for Consortium of MS Centers

Denise I Campagnolo, MD, MS is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine, American Paraplegia Society, Association of Academic Physiatrists, and Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers

Disclosure: Teva Neuroscience Honoraria Speaking and teaching; Serono-Pfizer Honoraria Speaking and teaching; Genzyme Corporation Grant/research funds investigator; Biogen Idec Grant/research funds investigator; Genentech, Inc Grant/research funds investigator; Eli Lilly & Company Grant/research funds investigator; Novartis investigator; MSDx LLC Grant/research funds investigator; BioMS Technology Corp Grant/research funds investigator; Avanir Pharmaceuticals Grant/research funds investigator

Daniel J Dire, MD, FACEP, FAAP, FAAEM Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Texas Medical School at Houston; Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Sciences Center San Antonio

Daniel J Dire, MD, FACEP, FAAP, FAAEM is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency Physicians, and Association of Military Surgeons of the US

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Milton J Klein, DO, MBA Consulting Physiatrist, Heritage Valley Health System-Sewickley Hospital and Ohio Valley General Hospital

Milton J Klein, DO, MBA is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Disability Evaluating Physicians, American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, American Academy of Osteopathy, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Osteopathic College of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Pain Society, and Pennsylvania Medical Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Richard Salcido, MD Chairman, Erdman Professor of Rehabilitation, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Richard Salcido, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American College of Physician Executives, American Medical Association, and American Paraplegia Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Tom Scaletta, MD Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Edward Hospital; Past-President, American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Tom Scaletta, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Emergency Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Donald Schreiber, MD, CM Associate Professor of Surgery (Emergency Medicine), Stanford University School of Medicine

Donald Schreiber, MD, CM is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Abbott Point of Care Inc Research Grant and Speakers Bureau Speaking and teaching; Nanosphere Inc Grant/research funds Research; Singulex Inc Grant/research funds Research; Abbott Diagnostics Inc Grant/research funds None

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

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American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) method for classifying spinal cord injury (SCI) by neurologic level.
 
 
 
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