This patient has an AVM (arteriovenous malformation) that has caused injury to the circulation of the spinal cord. An AVM is a direct connection between the arteries and veins. Normally, the artery feeds the capillaries. These capillaries feed oxygen and nutrients to the nerves of the spinal cord. The veins then take away the deoxygenated blood.
An AVM bipasses these capillaries and dumps the oxygenated blood directly into the vein. This can starve the cord of energy and cause damage to the cord.
This patient with a C2 cord injury has no ability to breathe on his own due to the loss of the phrenic nerve (C3-5) which supplies the diaphram. There might be some chance of nerve recovery but this will take time (up to three months or more) to determine that. That is a long time for someone to continuously squeeze that ambubag to keep this patient alive.
Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.