Autonomic dysreflexia and associated acute neurogenic pulmonary edema in a patient with spinal cord injury: a case report and review of the literature

K B Calder, I M Estores, A Krassioukov
Spinal Cord 2009, 47 (5): 423-5

STUDY DESIGN: A case report of a patient with spinal cord injury with autonomic dysreflexia and associated acute neurogenic pulmonary edema.

OBJECTIVE: To further describe autonomic dysreflexia as a potential cause of acute neurogenic pulmonary edema; specifically in a population with spinal cord injury.

SETTING: James A Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, FL, USA.

METHODS: A patient with a prior history of C5 AIS (ASIA impairment scale) B spinal cord injury was admitted for bowel preparation before a screening colonoscopy. During the 2-day bowel preparation, the patient developed severe autonomic dysreflexia. Due to persistent hypertension and acute onset respiratory failure, he required transfer to the intensive care setting.

RESULTS: Following a complicated course, the patient expired without a definitive cause of death. Autopsy findings showed gross and microscopic evidence of pulmonary edema.

CONCLUSIONS: To date, the association between autonomic dysreflexia and acute neurogenic pulmonary edema is not described in the spinal cord or rehabilitation literature. The purpose of this case report is to further describe the overlooked and/or under reported incidence of acute neurogenic pulmonary edema associated with episodes of dysreflexia in a population with spinal cord injury.

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