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Anesthesia for adults with chronic spinal cord injury

Lorri A Lee, MD
Letha Mathews, MBBS, FFARCS (I)
Section Editor
Jeffrey J Pasternak, MD
Deputy Editor
Marianna Crowley, MD


Spinal cord injury (SCI) produces a wide variety of changes in systemic physiology that can lead to complications over time. Patients with chronic spinal cord dysfunction often require anesthesia for urologic, orthopedic, and plastic surgical procedures.

For the purpose of this discussion, chronic injury will be defined as the condition beyond several weeks after injury.

This topic discusses the anesthetic management of patients with chronic SCI. Anesthesia for patients with acute SCI and the chronic complications of patients with SCI are discussed separately. (See "Anesthesia for adults with acute spinal cord injury" and "Chronic complications of spinal cord injury and disease".)


A medical history and anesthesia-directed physical examination should be performed for all patients who undergo anesthesia. For these patients, we focus the evaluation on the diverse systemic complications that can occur with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) and that can affect anesthetic management.

Chronic complications of SCI of particular concern for anesthesia are discussed here; other complications are discussed more fully separately. (See "Chronic complications of spinal cord injury and disease".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 11, 2016.
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