What is the role of neurogenic shock in the pathophysiology of spinal cord injury (SCI)?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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Answer

Neurogenic shock refers to the hemodynamic triad of hypotension, bradycardia, and peripheral vasodilation resulting from severe autonomic dysfunction and the interruption of sympathetic nervous system control in acute spinal cord injury. Hypothermia is also characteristic. This condition does not usually occur with spinal cord injury below the level of T6 but is more common in injuries above T6, secondary to the disruption of the sympathetic outflow from T1-L2 and to unopposed vagal tone, leading to a decrease in vascular resistance, with the associated vascular dilatation. Neurogenic shock needs to be differentiated from spinal and hypovolemic shock. Hypovolemic shock tends to be associated with tachycardia.


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