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Flashcards in Spinal Cord Compression Deck (45)
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1

Is spinal cord compression a medical emergency?

Yes

2

What is required with spinal cord emergency?

Swift diagnosis and treatment

3

Why is it important that spinal cord compression receives swift diagnosis and treatment?

To prevent long-term disability due to irreversible spinal cord injury

4

What is metastatic spinal cord compression?

Compression by direct pressure and/or induction of vertebral collapse or instability by metastatic spread or direct extension of malignancy that threatens to cause neurological disability

5

What might cause malignant spinal cord compression?

- Extradural spread from vertebral body metastasis
- Direct metastasis
- Vertebral crush fracture

6

What cancers most often metastasise to bone and cause spinal cord compression?

- Breast
- Kidney
- Thyroid
- Prostate
- Lung

7

When are most spinal metastases diagnosed?

Most are diagnosed following the diagnosis of the primary cancer

8

In what % of cases are spinal metastases the first manifestation of an unknown tumour?

10%

9

How can early detection of spinal cord compression be achieved?

You should inform patients at high risk of metastases of the symptoms of spinal cord compression, and advise them of what to do should they develop these symptoms

10

What symptoms suggest possible spinal metastases?

- Pain in thoracic or cervical spine
- Severe unremitting or progressive lumbar spine pain
- Spinal pain aggravated by straining
- Noctural spinal pain preventing sleep
- Localised spinal tenderness

11

What symptoms suggest spinal cord compression?

- Radicular pain
- Limb weakness
- Difficulty in walking
- Sensory loss, or bladder and bowel dysfunction
- Neurological signs of spinal cord or cauda equina compression

12

What investigation is done in spinal cord compression?

MRI imaging of whole spine

13

What is the purpose of MRI imaging of the whole spine in spinal cord compression?

So definitive treatment can be planned

14

How soon should MRI imaging of the whole spine be performed if clinical features suggest spinal metastasis?

Within 1 week

15

How soon should MRI imaging of the whole spine be performed if clinical features suggest spinal cord compression?

Within 24 hours, or sooner (including out of hours) if emergency treatment is needed

16

When should management be started for spinal cord compression?

As soon as possible after diagnosis

17

What is the aim of starting treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis in spinal cord compression?

- Minimising permanent damage to the spinal cord
- Reduce pain

18

Why might treatment for spinal cord compression reduce pain?

If the treatment shrinks the tumour and therefore relieves the pressure on the nerves and spinal cord

19

What factors will the treatment for spinal cord compression depend on?

- Type of cancer
- Area of spine affected
- General fitness

20

What are the treatment options for spinal cord compression?

- Steroids
- Radiotherapy
- Chemotherapy
- Surgery
- Hormonal therapy
- Drugs that strengthen bones

21

How do steroids work in spinal cord compression?

They help reduce pressure and swelling around the spinal cord

22

Who should be given steroids in spinal cord compression?

All patients with spinal cord compression unless contraindicated

23

Give an example of a contraindication to steroids in spinal cord compression

Significant suspicion of lymphoma

24

What steroid is given in spinal cord compression?

Dexamethasone

25

What dose of dexamethasone should be given in spinal cord compression?

16mg loading dose, followed by short course of 16mg daily while treatment is being planned

26

When should the loading dose of dexamethasone be given in spinal cord compression?

As soon as possible after assessment

27

What should happen to the dose of steroids after surgery or the start of radiotherapy in spinal cord compression?

It should be gradually reduced over 5-7 days and stopped

28

What should be done to the dose of steroids if the neurological function deteriorates at any time in spinal cord compression?

Reconsider the dose

29

What is the most common treatment for spinal cord compression?

Radiotherapy

30

Is radiotherapy used on its own or in conjunction with other treatments in spinal cord compression?

Can be used on its own, or alongside other treatments such as surgery