Autonomic Dysreflexia

Incidence of Autonomic Dysreflexia during Acute SCI


AD is well recognized as a complication characteristic of chronic SCI, as it does not occur immediately but rather takes several weeks or even months to develop post injury (Karlsson, 2006; Teasell et al. 2000). To date, AD has also been documented to occur as an acute complication of SCI, although rarely. Only one observational study was found which investigated the incidence of this complication during acute SCI. Krassioukov et al. (2003) retrospectively reviewed the incidence of early episodes of AD within a group of acute SCI patients. In this population, 5.2% of patients developed early episodes of AD, occurring between 4 and 7 days post injury. All individuals with evidence of early AD had complete cervical injuries. As there is limited evidence regarding the occurrence of early AD during acute SCI, it should be noted that a case study by Silver (2000) of four patients with acute cord transections reported the presence of early AD between days 7 and 31 after sustaining injury.


Patients with a cervical SCI are susceptible to developing early autonomic dysreflexia (based on one observational study; Krassioukov et al. 2003). 

  • Autonomic dysreflexia is a complication to be aware of during the acute phase post SCI although it is uncommon; Patients with cervical injuries may be more susceptible to early autonomic dysreflexia development.