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BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia

Year: 2010  |  Volume: 105  |  Issue: 6  |  Page No.: 753 - 759

Altered cardiovascular responses to tracheal intubation in patients with complete spinal cord injury: relation to time course and affected level

K. Y Yoo, C. W Jeong, S. J Kim, S. T Jeong, S. H Kwak, M. H Shin and J. Lee

Abstract

Background

We determined cardiovascular responses to tracheal intubation in relation to the time since injury in patients with different levels of spinal cord injury.

Methods

Two hundred and fourteen patients with complete cord injury were studied. They were either quadriplegics (>C7, n=71) or paraplegics (<T5, n=143), and were subdivided into six groups each according to the time since injury: <4 week (acute), 4 week–1 yr, 1–5, 5–10, 10–20, and >20 yr. Twenty patients with no cord injury served as controls. Systolic arterial pressure (SAP), heart rate (HR), and plasma catecholamine concentrations were determined.

Results

Intubation did not affect SAP in the quadriplegics regardless of the time post-injury, but it significantly increased SAP in all paraplegics. Moreover, the pressor response was enhanced in the paraplegics who were 10 yr or more since injury (P<0.05). HR increased significantly in all groups; the magnitude of the increase was less only in acute quadriplegics compared with controls. Plasma concentrations of norepinephrine increased in every group except for the quadriplegics within 4 weeks of injury. The maximum increases in SAP, HR, and norepinephrine from awake baseline values were smaller in the quadriplegics than in the paraplegics (P<0.01).

Conclusions

The cardiovascular and catecholamine responses to intubation change as a function of the time elapsed and the level of the cord injury. In this study, the pressor response to tracheal intubation was abolished in the quadriplegics but not in paraplegics; indeed, it was enhanced at 10 yr or more since injury in this group.

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