Pharmacological Interventions

There is limited evidence to date regarding pharmacological interventions used for the management of bradycardia in acute SCI. Only two studies have been found which investigated albuterol as treatment for bradycardia in acute SCI patients. However, the effectiveness of other pharmacological agents (aminophylline and theophylline) for acute bradycardia post SCI has been studied in case reports which did not meet our inclusion criteria (Pasnoori & Leesar 2004; Sadaka et al. 2010; Schulz-Stubner 2005; Whitman et al. 2008).


Two studies investigated the effectiveness of oral albuterol for treatment of bradycardia during acute SCI. Evans et al. (2014) conducted a case control study in which 18 patients with cervical SCI were retrospectively reviewed; 8 patients who were treated with oral albuterol during hospitalization following injury were compared to 10 patients not given this treatment. All patients developed bradycardia, however the median of bradycardic episodes was significantly lower (1.8) in patients receiving albuterol compared to patients not receiving albuterol (4.3, p=0.08). The authors also noted that the median total of atropine administered was significantly lower in patients given albuterol (0 mg) than in patients not given albuterol (1 mg, p=0.013). Rollistin et al. (2016) similarly found that patients given oral albuterol when compared to baseline assessment, had significantly fewer episodes of bradycardic events.


There is level 3 evidence (from one case control: Evans et al. 2014) that oral albuterol reduces bradycardic episodes in acute SCI patients.