Surfers’ myelopathy and other stories . . .

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8332 (Published 12 December 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8332

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Novice surfers can have non-traumatic injuries to the spinal cord, known as “surfers’ myelopathy.” In a retrospective review from Hawaii, all 19 novice surfers had sudden onset of pain in the lower back while surfing, followed by bilateral leg numbness and paralysis for 10-60 minutes. For 17 surfers, this happened the first time they had gone surfing. Surfers with worse spinal injury scores had minimal improvement at follow-up. The cause is unclear, but the rapidity of symptom onset and restricted diffusion on magnetic resonance scans suggest ischaemic injuries (Neurology 2012;79:2171-6, doi:10.1212/wnl.0b013e31827595cd).

Patient controlled sedation using propofol brings a risk of oversedation. An anaesthetic team has developed a reaction time monitor that, when incorporated into the handset of the patient controlled sedation system, allows patients to be sedated safely while preventing oversedation (Anaesthesia 2012, doi:10.1111/anae.12036). Twenty healthy volunteers deliberately attempted to overadminister propofol to themselves. All participants successfully sedated themselves, but none …

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