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March 1954

SPINAL CORD COMPRESSION STUDIES: II. Time Limits for Recovery After Acute Compression in Dogs

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1954;71(3):271-290. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1954.02320390001001

IT IS CLINICALLY important to determine how long the spinal cord may be compressed without precluding functional recovery, because it would lead to more rational and standardized treatment. One would expect the time to be short because of the vulnerability of nerve tissue to mechanical distortion and anoxia.

Allen* attempted to answer this question by producing contusion of the spinal cord of dogs. His technique was to drop known weights from known heights on the spinal cord. The degree of the impact was measured in gram-centimeters. Allen believed that the edema following the impact reached its maximum about four hours after the injury. He concluded that if the spinal cord compression caused by the edema could be prevented, the spinal cord might recover some function. Accordingly, he advised midline posterior incision of the spinal cord through the contused segment to drain and release the intramedullary pressure. He made such incisions

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