Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Autonomic hype1Teflexia is a syndrome which can cause life threatening increases in blood pressure in the spinal cord injured patient. It is estimated that of spinal cord injured patients sixty-six to eighty-five percent of them will have an occurrence of this syndrome in their lifetime. This is of great importance to anesthesia providers as the spinal cord injured patients represents only a small proportion of those patients presenting for surgery. The syndrome can present with symptoms of increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, headache, and many others. Recognizing autonomic hype1Teflexia is of particular interest because during anesthesia and surgery its symptoms can arise from several things during surgery, such as light anesthesia or not enough pain control. The problem for anesthesia providers is noticing the symptoms, identifying their root cause, and providing the proper treatment. As the condition is somewhat rare, anesthesia providers need to have a treatment plan ready for instances when this syndrome occurs. This independent study familiarized anesthesia providers from a Midwest hospital and anesthesia students from a nearby educational program on ctment treatment modalities for spinal cord injured patients that have an increased risk for this syndrome to occur.

In this project a review of cu1Tent literature was conducted and cun-ent treatments utilized in anesthesia for autonomic hyperreflexia were identified. An informational pamphlet was developed for use by anesthesia providers to use during cases that involve spinal cord injured patients. The pamphlet can be used to properly diagnose and treat those in which autonomic hyperreflexia may occur. After researching and designing the pamphlet an inservice on autonomic hyperreflexia was provided to anesthesia students and nurse anesthetists so as to familiarize them to the current treatment modalities for autonomic hyperreflexia.

This independent topic informed current anesthesia providers and students form a Midwestern community about a condition and its treatment that does not occur frequently during anesthesia but is very much a life threatening event if it goes unnoticed. By infonning providers about the risks, signs and symptoms of autonomic hyperreflexia providers are now better prepared to properly recognize and treat patients in whom this condition may occur