Effects of Steroids on Edema Associated with Injury of the Spinal Cord

  • Marcial G. Lewin
  • Hanna M. Pappius
  • Robert R. Hansebout


Standardized spinal cord injury was produced in cats by impact. Some were untreated and others treated with dexamethasone before and up to 24 h after injury.

The neurological condition of the cats was rated throughout the experimental period. Water and electrolyte content determinations and histological observations were made of injured spinal cord tissue.

Edema as demonstrated by increasing water content of the injured tissues begins a day after injury and thence increases significantly to a maximum three to six days after the trauma when segments adjacent to the lesion are involved. Edema has begun to recede on the ninth day.

Cats treated with dexamethasone before or up to 24 h after cord injury have significandy better recovery and less histological abnormality in the spinal cord than untreated cats, but the course of post-traumatic edema is similar. The beneficial effects of dexamethasone on functional recovery of animals with potentially reversible cord lesions does not seem to be mediated by its effects on edema alone.


Spinal Cord White Matter Spinal Cord Injury Potassium Concentration Injured Spinal Cord 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Albin, M. S., White, R. J., Locke, G. S., Massopust, L. C, Kretchmer, H. E.: Localized spinal cord hypothermia. Anesth. Analg. Curr. Res. 46, 8–16 (1967).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Yashon, D., Harris, L. S.: Effects of localized cooling on spinal cord trauma. J. Trauma 9, 1000–1008 (1969).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Allen, A. R.: Remarks on the histopathological changes in the spinal cord due to impact. An experimental study. J. nerv. ment. Dis. 41, 141–147 (1914).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Allen, A. R.: Surgery of experimental lesion of spinal cord equivalent to crush injury of fracture dislocation of spinal column. J. Amer. med. Ass. 57, 878–880 (1911).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dohrmann, G. J., Wagner, F. C, Bucy, P.: Transitory traumatic paraplegia: electron microscopy of early alterations in myelinated nerve fibers. J. Neurosurg. 36, 407–415 (1972).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ducker, T. B., Assenmacher, D. R.: Microvascular response to experimental spinal cord trauma. Surg. Forum 20, 428–30 (1969).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ducker, T. B., Hamit, H. F.: Experimental treatments of acute spinal cord injury. J. Neurosurg. 30, 693–697 (1969).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Ducker, T. B., Kindt, G. W., Kempe, L. G.: Pathological findings in acute experimental spinal cord trauma. J. Neurosurg. 35, 700–708 (1971).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Freeman, L. W., Wright, T. W.: Experimental observations of concussion and contusion of the spinal cord. Ann. Surg. 137, 433–443 (1953).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fried, L. C, Goodkin, R.: Microangiography observations of the experimentally traumatized spinal cord. J. Neurosurg. 35, 709–714 (1971).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gelfan, S., Tarlov, I. M.: Physiology of spinal cord, nerve root and peripheral nerve compression. Amer. J. Physiol. 185, 217–229 (1956).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Goodkin, R., Campbell, J. B.: Sequential pathologic changes in spinal cord injury: a preliminary report. Surg. Forum 20, 430–432 (1969).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hansebout, R. R., Lewin, M. G., Pappius, H. M.: Evidence regarding the action of steroids in injured spinal cord. In: Steroids and Brain Edema. Berlin-Heidelberg-New York: Springer 1972.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Joyner, J., Freeman, L. W.: Urea and spinal cord trauma. Neurology (Minneap.) 13, 69–72 (1963).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kelly, D. L., Lassiter, K. R., Calogero, J. A., Alexander, E.: Effects of local hypothermia and tissue oxygen studies in experimental paraplegia. J. Neurosurg. 33, 554–563 (1970).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Vongsvivut, A., Smith, J. M.: Effects of hyperbaric oxygenation and tissue oxygen studies in experimental paraplegia. J. Neurosurg. 36, 425–429 (1972).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    McVeigh, J. F.: Experimental cord crushes with especial reference to the mechanical factors involved and subsequent changes in the areas of the cord affected. Arch. Surg. 7, 573–600 (1923).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Osterholm, J. L., Mathews, G. J.: Altered norepinephrine metabolism following experimental spinal cord injury. Part 1: Relationship to hemorrhagic necrosis and postwounding neurological deficits. J. Neurosurg. 36, 386–394 (1972).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Osterholm, J. L., Mathews, G. J.: Effect of hypothermia and steroids upon spinal injury norepinephrine metabolism. Presented at the meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Boston 1972.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Pappius, H. M., Dayes, L. A.: Hypertonic urea: its effect on the distribution of electrolytes in normal and edematous brain tissues. Arch. Neurol. 13, 395–402 (1965).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pappius, H. M. Gulati, D. R.: Water and electrolyte content of cerebral tissues in experimentally induced edema. Acta neuropath. (Berl.) 2, 451–460 (1963).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Rasmussen, T., Gulati, D. R.: Cortisone in the treatment of post-operative cerebral edema. J. Neurosurg. 19, 535–544 (1962).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Richardson, H. D., Nakamura, S.: An electron microscopic study of spinal cord edema and the effect of treatment with steroids, mannitol, and hypothermia. Presented at the meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Boston 1972.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Scarff, J. E.: Injuries of the vertebral column and spinal cord. In: Broch, S. (Ed.): Injuries of the Brain and Spinal Cord and Their Coverings. 4th Edition. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer 1960.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Schneider, R. C, Cherry, G., Pantek, H.: The syndrome of acute central cervical spinal cord injury with special reference to the mechanisms involved in hyperextension injuries of cervical spine. J. Neurosurg. 11, 546–577 (1954).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Tarlov, I. M.: Spinal Cord Compression: Mechanism of Paralysis and Treatment. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas 1957.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wagner, F. C, Dohrmann, G. J., Bucy, P.: Histopathology of transitory traumatic paraplegia in the monkey. J. Neurosurg. 35, 272–276 (1971).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcial G. Lewin
    • 1
  • Hanna M. Pappius
    • 1
  • Robert R. Hansebout
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery and the Donner Laboratory for Experimental Neurochemistry, The Montreal Neurological InstituteMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations