Traumatic spinal cord injury is more common in patients receiving sedation or general anesthesia and in patients who are unresponsive during the procedure, according to a study published in Anesthesiology.

Prompted by an increase in interventional pain treatments performed at the cervical spine level, the study examined characteristics and patterns of injury in malpractice claims collected from Jan. 1, 2005-Dec. 31, 2008. The study was titled "Injury and Liability Associated with Cervical Procedures for Chronic Pain."

The study compared claims arising from cervical pain treatments with all other chronic pain claims. Claims for spinal cord injury underwent in-depth analysis for mechanisms of injury and use of sedation. Examination of the malpractice claims found that of the patients who underwent a cervical procedure, 59 percent experienced spinal cord damage compared with 11 percent of patients with other chronic pain. Direct needle trauma was the predominant cause.


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