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Neurological & Spinal Emergencies: Every Second Matters in These Critical Situations

By Dr. Ashish Gupta in Neurosurgery

Jan 02 , 2024 | 2 min read


Neurological and spinal emergencies include a wide range of critical conditions that require urgent attention- time is crucial and significantly impacts patient outcomes.

Every second counts in such scenarios.

In emergencies like brain and spine injuries or acute neurological conditions like brain tumours, infections, brain haemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) or aneurysms, every second can make a difference in preserving brain function, preventing further damage or even saving a person's life.

-If a patient presents with severe headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness, weakness of limbs, seizures (fits), or vision loss, it could be underlying brain tumours or any other pathology that needs immediate surgical attention.

- In cases of a brain haemorrhage caused by ruptured arteries, a quick surgery can save lives and preserve brain functions; in a brain stroke caused by a blockage in a blood vessel supplying the brain, quick intervention (clot busting drug within 4.5 hours) to restore blood flow can minimize brain damage and improve recovery chances. Every second during a brain stroke can result in the loss of millions of brain cells due to the lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Early neurological or neurosurgical intervention is a must.

Read more: Neurological Emergencies: A Practical Approach to Manage Critical Situations

- Excess fluid in the brain (acute hydrocephalus) can put pressure on the brain and is a life-threatening situation which needs immediate lifesaving attention by a neurosurgeon.

- If a patient has acute neck pain or back pain that travels to the arm or leg (sciatica) and is associated with weakness or numbness of the leg or arm, it needs immediate attention and investigations such as an MRI, as there could be acute disc prolapse, spine tumours, infections of the spine or spinal injury (like fractures or dislocation). Early management is a must in such a scenario.

- Large disc prolapse (Cauda Equina syndrome) is a serious condition where the nerve roots at the lower end of the spinal cord become compressed, causing severe back pain, weakness, bowel or bladder dysfunction, and sometimes paralysis. Immediate surgical intervention is typically needed to prevent permanent nerve damage. Swift microsurgical intervention is crucial to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and prevent permanent damage.

Read more: Never Ignore These 5 Neurological Disorder & Diseases Symptoms

Neurosurgeons and spine surgeons are trained to work swiftly and precisely, often collaborating with a multidisciplinary team, including neurologists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, ICU specialists, and others to ensure rapid and effective care. The availability of 24/7 emergency services, ambulance services, in-house neurosurgeons, advanced medical facilities, and state-of-the-art equipment in tertiary care hospitals has significantly improved surgical outcomes and saved lives. The importance of rapid assessment, diagnosis, and treatment in neurological and spinal emergencies cannot be emphasized enough, as even a few seconds can profoundly impact a patient's outcome and survival. In the realm of neuro and spine surgery, every second counts in saving precious lives through expertise and cutting-edge infrastructure.