Hyperbaric oxygen therapy and comprehensive orthopedic treatment for incomplete traumatic spinal cord injury on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau: study protocol for an open-label randomized controlled clinical trial
Background: Apoptosis secondary to ischemia and hypoxia is the main cause of spinal cord dysfunction. Because of the decrease in atmospheric pressure, patients living on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau are in a hypoxic environment, which is very unfavorable for the recovery of spinal cord injury. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can improve the postoperative function of patients with incomplete spinal cord injury, and its effect is better on the plateau than at normal altitudes. We performed a prospective randomized controlled clinical trial to observe the effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on traumatic spinal cord injury in patients living on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and are currently analyzing the results.
Methods/Design: This prospective, open-label, randomized controlled clinical trial was performed at the Department of Spine Surgery, Affiliated Hospital of Qinghai University, China. In total, 164 patients with incomplete traumatic spinal cord injury were equally and randomly assigned to a control group and a hyperbaric oxygen therapy group. Patients in the control group were treated with pedicle screw fixation and decompressive laminectomy. In addition to the surgical treatment performed in the control group, patients in the hyperbaric oxygen group underwent hyperbaric oxygen therapy at 0.2 MPa once a day for four treatment courses. Ten treatment sessions constituted one course, and each course was separated by a 5- to 7-day rest interval. The primary outcome was the modified Barthel index to assess activities of daily living. The secondary outcomes were the American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) impairment scale grade, sensory score, and motor score. The partial results demonstrated that after four treatment courses (55–61 days), the modified
Barthel index and ASIA tactile, pain, and motor scores were higher in the hyperbaric oxygen group than in the control group. The ASIA grades were significantly different between the hyperbaric oxygen group and control group. The proportion of patients with ASIA grades D and E was higher in the hyperbaric oxygen group than in the control group.
Discussion: The study design was finished in May 2012. Patient recruitment began in June 2012 and finished until February 2016.Data analysis will be finished in December 2017. In this trial, we aim to determine the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on the treatment of incomplete traumatic spinal cord injury in patients living on the plateau and to provide clinical evidence for treating incomplete traumatic spinal cord injury in these patients.