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Release: April 9, 2002

UI Health Care physician helps author spinal cord injury care guidelines

A University of Iowa Health Care physician helped prepare recently released national guidelines for the care of patients with traumatic spine and spinal cord injuries.

Timothy Ryken, M.D., an assistant professor in the UI Department of Neurosurgery, served on the committee of seven prominent neurosurgeons that authored the 25 chapters comprising the guidelines. The guidelines appear in a special supplement to the March 2002 issue of Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. The document will also be available for widespread dissemination through Web sites of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

The publication, "Guidelines for the Management of Acute Cervical Spine and Spinal Cord Injuries," represents a major step forward in the incorporation of scientific method into the practice of neurosurgery.

"We wanted to thoroughly review all of the best practices and then help provide guidance for the entire health care team about caring for these patients," Ryken said. "The guidelines will be a valuable resource that can help achieve the best possible outcome for people affected with these very serious injuries."

The guidelines provide information on subjects ranging from immobilization of patients by emergency crews in the field and during transportation to the hospital to the appropriate use of medications and various surgical techniques. The authors also included a section about caring for children who cervical spine injuries.

"The guidelines are meant to be dynamic and will be updated as new advances are made," Ryken added. "The goals of practice guidelines are to condense the cumulative medical literature into a manageable document, to protect the various options available to physicians in caring for these patients to highlight areas of needed research. We hope the guidelines will provide a basis for enhancing the care of patients." The guidelines are approved by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons.

Ryken is a graduate of the UI Carver College of Medicine. He served his residency at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and a fellowship at Cambridge University in Cambridge, United Kingdom. He is board certified in neurosurgery and is a VanWegenen Fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, with clinical expertise in spinal surgery, and neurosurgical oncology.