Spinal Bleeding- Neurosurgery
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Spinal bleeding refers to a condition in which there is a loss of blood in any part of the spinal cord. The spinal cord is a long, tube-like structure made of nerve tissues. It runs from the base of the brain to the lower back.
The most common cause of spinal bleeding is an injury caused by trauma. However, it may also be caused by spontaneous bleeding. Bleeding disorders, abnormal blood vessels, and the use of blood-thinning drugs increase the risk.
It is less common compared to brain hemorrhage and is often underreported. Nonetheless, it is a medical emergency.
Diagnosis of Spinal Bleeding
The diagnosis of spinal bleeding is inherently challenging. It usually begins with blood tests to rule out blood disorders. For example, complete blood count (CBC) with platelets, and prothrombin time (PT). PT determines the time necessary for the blood plasma to clot.
Imaging tests such as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT scan (computed tomography) are routinely used for the diagnosis.
Moreover, the doctor may also perform specialized imaging techniques to produce detailed images of the blood vessels. These include magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) and CT angiography.
MRA helps locate abnormalities in the blood vessels. It uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer. Depending on the case, the doctor may inject a contrast medium called gadolinium during MRA. On the other hand, CTA uses X-ray and a contrast medium containing iodine.
Both MRA and CTA are crucial to locating the source of bleeding in the spinal cord.
Spinal Bleeding Treatment
Treatments include supportive measures, the use of large doses of steroid drugs, and surgery. If a person with spinal bleeding is taking a blood thinner, the doctor may stop the drug and give other drugs that act against the blood thinner, such as vitamin K and protamine.