A Rare Medical Case: Air in the Spinal Canal
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. The spinal cord is one of the most important parts of the body. It sends out nerve projections to the arms, legs, chest, and torso, allowing people to perform various motor functions and receive a variety of sensory signals. The spinal cord is protected by bony vertebrae. However, despite this protection, serious injuries can still occur. According to information that has been published by the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistics Center (NSCSC):
- About 54 people out of every one million citizens in the United States will suffer an injury to the spinal cord every year.
- This equates to around 17,000 new spinal cord injuries on an annual basis.
- About 300,000 people are currently living in the United States with a spinal cord injury.
- The average age at which people suffer a spinal cord injury is 42, with about 4 out of every 5 people being male.
- The most common reason why people sustain a spinal cord injury is an auto accident.
- The average time spent in a hospital after a spinal cord injury is 11 days.
The world of spinal cord injuries is diverse and can mean some different things. Examples of spinal cord injuries include:
- A spinal root avulsion
- A transection of the spinal cord at a certain level
- A disc herniation of the spinal cord
- The development of a syrinx
- Air in the spinal canal
Watch YouTube Video: Levels of Spinal Cord Injury. This educational video provides an in-depth look at the various levels of spinal cord injuries.
The Presence of Air in the Spinal Canal
While the presence of air in the spinal canal is a rare injury, it also has the potential to be devastating. The medical term for air in the spinal canal is called pneumorrhachis. While this is rare, it cannot be missed on a radiology scan because it has some different causes. Based on the results of a research study that was recently published in the European Spine Journal, the most common causes include:
- A traumatic brain injury that involves the cervical spine
- A direct traumatic injury of the spine, such as in a car accident
- Elevated pressure inside of the chest cavity
- Barotrauma, which occurs when the ventilator settings are too high on an individual who has been intubated
- Drug use
- Blunt trauma to the abdomen or pelvis
Clearly, there are lots of different causes of air in the spinal canal. Air in the canal is typically visualized on a CT scan or an MRI.
What is the Treatment?
If someone isn’t having any symptoms of the air in their spine, they can be observed. In some cases, the air may dissolve spontaneously. However, in other cases, serious symptoms can result. If this air travels to the brain, it can cause an increase in the intracranial pressure, which could be fatal. If someone is suffering symptoms, it is a good idea to contact a neurosurgeon to evaluate the presence of the air. Some people may require surgery. After this, meeting with a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento can be helpful. The case should be reviewed because you may be entitled to financial compensation.
Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer. Any injury to the spinal cord is serious. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in an accident, call me at (916) 921-6400 at (800) 404-5400 for free friendly advice.
I’m a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
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Image Source: This diagram was located first on Wikimedia Commons and has been printed here under the CC BY SA License, version 4.0.
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