Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Presentation of neurogenic shock within the emergency department
  1. Matthew Pritam Taylor1,
  2. Paul Wrenn2,
  3. Andrew David O'Donnell1
  1. 1Medical Teaching Centre, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  2. 2Emergency Department, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Matthew Pritam Taylor, Medical Teaching Centre, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK; matthew.p.taylor{at}


Background Injury to the spinal cord can result in loss of sympathetic innervation causing a drop in BP and HR, this condition is known as neurogenic shock. There is debate among the literature on how and when neurogenic shock presents and what values of HR and BP should be used to define it. Previous studies do not take into account multiple prehospital and emergency department recordings.

Objective To improve understanding of how neurogenic shock presents in humans, allowing better identification and treatment.

Methods The Trauma Audit and Research Network database for an adult major trauma centre was used to isolate patients with a spinal cord injury. Qualifying patients had all available BPs and HRs collated into a database. Patients with neurogenic shock were isolated, allowing data analysis.

Results Out of 3069 trauma patients, 33 met the inclusion criteria, of which 15 experienced neurogenic shock. 87% of the patients who had neurogenic shock experienced it within 2 hours of injury. Neurogenic shock below the T6 level was less common (p=0.009); however, there were still four cases in the cohort. More patients with complete spinal cord injury had neurogenic shock (p=0.039).

Conclusions Neurogenic shock is variable and unpredictable. It can present in the prehospital environment and without warning in a patient with previously normal vital signs. The medical team should be aware of it in all patients with spinal cord injury regardless of injury level.

  • neurology, spinal
  • prehospital care

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors MPT: planning, experimental design, execution, statistical analysis, writing up, publication. PW: planning, experimental design, execution, statistical analysis. ADO: statistical analysis, editorial work, literature search.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval UHCW NHS Research, Development & Innovation.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.