J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg 2022; 83(01): 057-065
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1735858
Review Article

Pros and Cons of Early and Very Early Surgery for Traumatic Central Cord Syndrome with Spinal Stenosis: Literature Review and Case Report

Gerhard Hildebrandt
1   Department of Neurosurgery, Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
2   Division of Neurosurgery, HMU Health and Medical University Potsdam, Ernst von Bergmann Hospital, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany
Martin Nikolaus Stienen
1   Department of Neurosurgery, Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
3   Department of Spine Surgery, Swiss Paraplegic Centre, Nottwil, LU, Switzerland
› Author Affiliations


Background The case of a 69-year-old patient with an acute traumatic central cord syndrome (ATCCS) with preexisting spinal stenosis raised a discussion over the question of conservative versus surgical treatment in the acute setting. We provide a literature overview on the management (conservative vs. surgical treatment) of ATCCS with preexisting spinal stenosis.

Methods We reviewed the literature concerning essential concepts for the management of ATCCS with spinal stenosis and cervical spinal cord injury. The data retrieved from these studies were applied to the potential management of an illustrative case report.

Results Not rarely has ATCCS an unpredictable neurologic course because of its dynamic character with secondary injury mechanisms within the cervical spinal cord in the early phase, the possibility of functional deterioration, and the appearance of a neuropathic pain syndrome during late follow-up. The result of the literature review favors early surgical treatment in ATCCS patients with preexisting cervical stenosis.

Conclusion Reluctance toward aggressive and timely surgical treatment of ATCCS should at least be questioned in patients with preexisting spinal stenosis.

Publication History

Received: 20 December 2020

Accepted: 09 March 2021

Article published online:
15 November 2021

© 2021. Thieme. All rights reserved.

Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany