Background: Most studies on spinal cord infarction have been conducted in single centres; they usually consisted of case reports, or of larger series of patients recruited over a large period of time, with heterogeneous diagnostic procedures. Therefore, the clinical and radiological presentation of spinal cord infarcts and their short term outcome remain poorly understood.
Objective: To define clinical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings, and short term outcome in patients with spinal cord infarcts.
Methods: The authors prospectively included patients within 10 days of onset. An MRI scan was required and repeated when initially normal.
Results: Twenty eight consecutive patients were included over a 24 month period in 16 neurological centres. The infarct was cervical in seven patients, thoracic in three, thoracolumbar in 15, and restricted to the conus in three. On axial MRI scans the infarct was located in the central territory of the anterior spinal artery in 21 patients, and in the peripheral arterial territory in three. At month two, 15 patients had a good outcome and 13 had a poor outcome, including three deaths. Patients who, at onset, could not walk, had bladder dysfunction, or proprioceptive deficits were more likely to have a poor outcome. At month two, pain had occurred in 10 of the 25 survivors and was associated neither with the initial severity, nor the extent of the infarct on MRI.
Conclusion: The two month outcome mainly depends on the initial severity of the neurological deficit; however, a few patients with a severe impairment at onset had a good outcome, especially when proprioception remained normal at onset. The study does not support the hypothesis that pain occurs more frequently in small spinal infarcts.
- CSF, cerebrospinal fluid
- ECG, electrocardiogram
- MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
- spinal cord infarcts
- MRI findings in spinal cord infarcts
- prognosis of spinal cord infarcts
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