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There are limited data on the lesion volume changes following spinal cord injury (SCI). In this study, a meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the volume size changes of the injured spinal cord over time among animal studies in traumatic SCI. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, we conducted a comprehensive electronic search of English literature of PubMed and EMBASE databases from 1946 to 2015 concerning the time-dependent changes in the volume of the spinal cord following mechanical traumatic SCI. A hand-search was also performed for non-interventional, non-molecular, and non-review studies. Quality appraisal, data extraction, qualitative and quantitative analyses were performed afterward. Of 11,561 articles yielded from electronic search, 49 articles were assessed for eligibility after reviewing of titles, abstracts, and references. Ultimately, 11 articles were eligible for quantitative synthesis. The ratio of lesion volume to spinal cord total volume increased over time. Avascularity appeared in spinal cord 4 hours after injury. During the first week, the spinal subarachnoid space decreased. The hemorrhagic lesion size peaked in 1 week and decreased thereafter. Significant loss of gray and white matter occurred from day 3 with a slower progression of white matter damage. Changes of lesion extent over time is critical in pathophysiologic processes after SCI. Early avascularity, rapid loss of gray matter, slow progression of white matter damage, and late cavitation are the pathophysiologic key points of SCI, which could be helpful in choosing the proper intervention on a timely basis.

Original publication





Acta Medica Iranica

Publication Date





385 - 394