PM R. 2023 Aug 6. doi: 10.1002/pmrj.13051. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Autonomic dysreflexia (AD) is a frequent complication of spinal cord injury (SCI), though current clinical practice patterns for medication management of this condition are unknown. Correspondingly, it is unclear if national differences in practice patterns exist.
OBJECTIVE: Determine trends in current pharmacologic management of AD throughout the Americas.
DESIGN: International survey of current physician practice patterns.
SETTING: Academic Medical Center.
PARTICIPANTS: Sixty physicians managing patients with SCI and prescribing medications to manage AD.
INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Presence of a formal pharmacologic AD management protocol, first- and second-line medications, patient characteristics influencing pharmacologic management.
RESULTS: The majority of physicians (69%) had a formal AD management protocol for inpatient care, with nitroglycerin ointment (82%) being the most common first-line medication. Strong national differences existed regarding the use of nitroglycerin ointment, with 98% of US-based physicians utilizing this as first line medication and 0% of physicians in Canada or Latin America utilizing this due to recent lack of medication availability. Only 67% of physicians had a preferred second line medication, with preferences split between hydralazine (48%) and nifedipine (28%). A systolic blood pressure threshold for pharmacologic management was utilized by 56% of physicians, while 26% considered neurological level of injury in decisions to use medications for AD. Heart rate was used by only 5% of physicians in their decision to managed AD with medications.
CONCLUSIONS: As of 2023, US-based physicians caring for individuals with SCI largely have formal inpatient protocols in place for medication management of AD, with nearly all relying on nitroglycerin ointment as their first line medication. In areas outside of the US where nitroglycerin ointment is unavailable, pharmacologic practice patterns significantly differ. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.