How are steroids administered in the treatment of spinal cord injury (SCI)?

Updated: Nov 01, 2018
  • Author: Lawrence S Chin, MD, FACS, FAANS; Chief Editor: Brian H Kopell, MD  more...
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Overall, the benefit from steroids is considered modest at best, but for patients with complete or incomplete quadriplegia, a small improvement in motor strength in one or more muscles can provide important functional gains.

The administration of steroids remains an institutional and physician preference in spinal cord injury. Nevertheless, the administration of high-dose steroids within 8 hours of injury for all patients with acute spinal cord injury is practiced by most physicians.

The current recommendation is to treat all patients with spinal cord injury according to the local/regional protocol. If steroids are recommended, they should be initiated within 8 hours of injury with the following steroid protocol: methylprednisolone 30 mg/kg bolus over 15 minutes and an infusion of methylprednisolone at 5.4 mg/kg/h for 23 hours beginning 45 minutes after the bolus.

Local policy will also determine if the NASCIS II or NASCIS III protocol is to be followed.

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