Childhood idiopathic spinal cord infarction: Description of 7 cases and review of the literature

To describe the clinical course, neuroimaging findings and functional outcome of idiopathic spinal cord infarction (SCI) in adolescents.

Retrospective and descriptive analyses of seven patients with idiopathic SCI and 50 additional cases from the literature were included. Data collected concerned clinical presentation, MRI findings, initial diagnosis, treatments and functional outcome at the last medical visit.

Mean age at presentation was 13.2years (range 13-15). All patients presented a sudden and painful acute myelopathy with <24h time to maximal symptoms manifestation. A suspected trigger related to a minor effort was reported in 3/7 cases. Six patients presented with paraplegia, one with paraparesis. All had bladder dysfunction needing catheterization. Three patients had an initial misdiagnosis. Initial MRI was considered as normal in 2 cases. In the 5 other cases, T2-weighted-MR images showed hyperintensity within the thoracolumbar spinal cord, affecting mostly the anterior spinal artery territory. Evidence for associated spinal growth dystrophy were present in 6/7 cases. Mean follow-up time was 27.4months (range 3-46): 2 patients recovered autonomous ambulation, 4 patients regained walking ability with aids and one child (the shortest follow-up) remained wheelchair-dependent. A neurogenic bladder was still reported in 6/7 children at the last visit. Complementary analyses with literature cases were consistent with the findings obtained in our cohort.

Idiopathic SCI typically occurs in adolescence with a rapid onset and painful acute myelopathy. The MRI shows a T2-hyperintense signal within the spinal cord and provides evidence for an ischemic mechanism. Etiology remains unclear in most cases even though some specific risk factors for this age must play an important role in the pathogenesis, such as mechanical constraints on the immature spine.

Brain & development. 2017 May 31 [Epub ahead of print]

Claire Bar, Emmanuel Cheuret, Pierre Bessou, Jean-Michel Pedespan

Service de Neurologie Pédiatrique, Hôpital Pellegrin-Enfants, CHU de Bordeaux, France. Electronic address: ., Service de Neurologie Pédiatrique, Hôpital des Enfants, CHU de Toulouse, France., Service d'imagerie anténatale, de l'enfant et de la femme, Hôpital Pellegrin-Enfants, CHU de Bordeaux, France., Service de Neurologie Pédiatrique, Hôpital Pellegrin-Enfants, CHU de Bordeaux, France.