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Thread: Paralyzed but not a SCI

  1. #1
    Member mlkost's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
    Schuylkill County Pennsylvania (Northeast PA)

    Question Paralyzed but not a SCI

    A friend of mine was in a car accident years ago. It's a miracle he made it through. In his accident he suffered a tear in his aorta plus numerous other injuries... He did not suffer a spinal cord injury, however his doctors told him that he needed surgery to repair the aorta and it was a very long operation. He was told that being under so much anesthesia for so long there was a 50-50 chance he would be paralyzed. He did come through paralyzed. He does have some sensation. He explained to me that if boiling water would spill on him it would only feel warm, he would not feel the burn. He has to use caths and do a bowel program.

    Has anyone have heard of a paralysis like this? I just didn't understand why a situation like that would cause paralysis? Anyone know?

  2. #2
    Actually, he likely does have a spinal cord injury, but it is from hypoxia (poor blood flow and oxygen) to the cord, not due to trauma.

    I would guess that he has a paraplegic type injury which is incomplete, correct? The lower cord gets most of its blood supply directly from the aorta.

    The cross-clamping of the aorta needed for repair of aortic aneurysms or aortic tears often results in cord hypoxia or even anoxia (no flow or oxygen) of the cord. If this cross-clamping of the aorta takes more than 20 minutes, the risk of cord ischemia (poor blood supply) is about 50% and this goes up with the longer that the clamping is required. It is not the anesthesia but the cross-clamping that causes the paralysis.

    An aortic tear is a very serious life-threatening injury and often not survived long enough to have surgery. It can also be difficult to repair, so the surgery may very well have been prolonged.

    You may want to read Dr. Young's article about the blood supply of the cord to help you (and him) understand this better:


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