In this Forensic Science Newsletter we will discuss traumatic spinal cord injuries.
Traumatic lesions of the spinal cord usually result from injuries which cause vertebral fractures. The spinal cord may, however, be injured by vertebral dislocation without fracture or by penetrating wounds of the canal.
The common sites of injury are at levels of the upper cervical, the mid cervical, the lower cervical, the lower thoracic, and the upper lumbar vertebrae. In approximately three-fourths of the cases of fracture of the cervical vertebrae, the spinal cord is injured. Slightly more than half of the fractures of the thoracic spine and only about one-fourth of the fractures of the lumbar spine were associated with spinal cord injury.
There are two components to spinal cord injury, a primary component and secondary component. The primary component is the immediate local effect of the mechanical injury, as well as above and below it. The secondary component is manifested by vascular dysfunction, edema, ischemia, necrosis, excitotoxicity, electrolyte shifts, free radical production, inflammation, and delayed apoptotic death.
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Click below to read the full Forensic Journal Newsletter regarding the neuropathology of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injuries.