, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 229-239
Date: 18 Mar 2011

Hypothermic Treatment for Acute Spinal Cord Injury


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that affects approximately 11,000 patients each year in the United States. Although a significant amount of research has been conducted to clarify the pathophysiology of SCI, there are limited therapeutic interventions that are currently available in the clinic. Moderate hypothermia has been used in a variety of experimental and clinical situations to target several neurological disorders, including traumatic brain and SCI. Recent studies using clinically relevant animal models of SCI have reported the efficacy of therapeutic hypothermia (TH) in terms of promoting long-term behavioral improvement and reducing histopathological damage. In addition, several clinical studies have demonstrated encouraging evidence for the use of TH in patients with a severe cervical spinal cord injury. Moderate hypothermia (33°C) introduced systemically by intravascular cooling strategies appears to be safe and provides some improvement of long-term recovery of function. TH remains an experimental clinical approach and randomized multicenter trials are needed to critically evaluate this potentially exciting therapeutic intervention targeting this patient population.