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Surgical intervention ≤ 24 hours versus > 24 hours after injury for the management of acute traumatic central cord syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to evaluate the efficacy, outcomes, and complications of surgical intervention performed within 24 hours (≤ 24 hours) versus after 24 hours (> 24 hours) in managing acute traumatic central cord syndrome (ATCCS).

METHODS: Articles pertinent to the study were retrieved from PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane. The authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of treatment procedures and outcomes according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRIMSA) guidelines.

RESULTS: Seven articles comprising 488 patients were included, with 188 (38.5%) patients in the ≤ 24-hour group and 300 (61.5%) in the > 24-hour group. Significant differences were not found between groups in terms of demographic characteristics, injury mechanism, spinal cord compression level, neuroimaging features, and the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) motor score at admission. Both groups had a similar approach to surgery and steroid administration. The surgical complication rate was significantly higher in the > 24-hour group (4.5%) compared to the ≤ 24-hour group (1.2%) (p = 0.05). Clinical follow-up duration was similar at 12 months (interquartile range 3-36) for both groups (p > 0.99). The ≤ 24-hour group demonstrated a not statistically significant greater improvement in ASIA motor score, with a mean difference of 12 (95% CI -20.7 to 44.6) compared to the > 24-hour group.

CONCLUSIONS: The present study indicates potential advantages of early (≤ 24 hours) surgery in ATCCS patients, specifically in terms of lower complication rates. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings and their clinical implications.

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