Spinal cord injury diagnosis
A spinal cord injury may be ruled out by a doctor in the emergency after careful inspection, evaluation and questioning about the injury.
If the patient isn't fully awake, or has obvious signs of weakness or neurological injury, emergency diagnostic tests may be needed. Some of these diagnostic tests include:
- can reveal vertebral (spinal column) problems, tumors, fractures or degenerative changes in the spine.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan may provide a better look at abnormalities than seen on an X-ray. This scan uses computers to form a series of cross-sectional images that can define bone, disk and other problems.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce computer-generated images. This test is very helpful in looking at the spinal cord and identifying herniated disks, blood clots or other masses that may be compressing the spinal cord
Spinal cord injury treatment
Treatment for a spinal cord injury frequently begins at the scene of the injury to minimize any effects of head or neck trauma. Emergency medical personnel generally will immobilize the spine as gently and quickly as possible using a rigid neck collar and a rigid carrying board to transport the patient to the hospital. Some treatment methods for spinal cord injuries include:
- Maintaining your ability to breathe
- Preventing shock
- Immobilization to stabilize the spine and prevent further injury
- Avoiding possible complications, such as stool or urine retention, respiratory or cardiovascular difficulty and formation of deep vein blood clots in the extremities
- Intravenous medications