The Central Cord Score: A Novel Classification and Scoring System Specific to Acute Traumatic Central Cord Syndrome.

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Publication Date


Publication Title

World Neurosurg


washington; seattle; swedish; swedish neuro


BACKGROUND: Acute traumatic central cord syndrome (ATCCS) is the most common form of spinal cord injury in the United States. Treatment remains controversial, which is a consequence of ATCCS having an inherently different natural history from conventional spinal cord injury, thus requiring a separate classification system. We devised a novel Central Cord Score (CCscore), which both guides treatment and tracks improvement over time with symptoms specific to ATCCS.

METHODS: Medical records of patients with a diagnosis of ATCCS were retrospectively reviewed at a single institution. The CCscore was devised based on signs, symptoms, and imaging findings we believed to be critical in assessing severity of ATCCS. Numeric values were assigned for distal upper extremity motor strength, upper extremity sensation, ambulatory status, magnetic resonance imaging cord signal, and urinary retention.

RESULTS: We identified 51 patients with follow-up data; there were 17 cases of mild injury (CCscore 1-5), 23 moderate cases (CCscore 6-10), and 11 severe cases (CCscore 11-15). Patients treated surgically had significantly greater improvement in upper extremity motor scores and total CCscore only up to 3 months. In terms of timing of surgery, patients treated≥3 months.

CONCLUSIONS: Based on these data and their alignment with past literature, the CCscore is able to objectively and specifically categorize the severity and outcome of ATCCS, which represents a step forward in the quest to determine the ultimate efficacy and timing of surgery for ATCCS.

Clinical Institute

Neurosciences (Brain & Spine)