Atypical Cervical Spondylotic Myelopathy Mimicking Intramedullary Tumor

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Study Design.Case report and a review of the literature.Objective.We report the case of a young man with a short course of progressive cervical myelopathy (CM). Cervical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed a stenosis of the cervical spinal canal at C4–C6 and an atypically enlarged intramedullary high intensity extending from C1–T1 (T2-weighted) with contrast enhancement at C4–C5 (T1-weighted). Neurologic and radiologic diagnosis therefore favored a tumor of the spinal cord.Summary of Background Data.CM is a clinical diagnosis of mostly degenerative origin in older patients that features circumscribed high-intensity signals near the point of compression in T2-weighted MRI. Contrast enhancement in those high-intense areas is rarely described in the literature, and the differentiation from neoplastic and infective lesions might be very difficult in these cases.Methods.Retrospective case study with follow-up examination and MRI-control 3 months after surgery.Results.The patient was decompressed and stabilized from dorsally, and a biopsy was taken. The exact diagnosis of a myelopathy and an exclusion of a neoplastic origin succeeded through histopathological examination. Three months after first surgery, the patient had improved significantly and underwent an additional anterior stabilization, while the MRI remained almost unchanged.Conclusion.In case of a fast progressive CM with atypical radiographic appearance initial decompression with inspection of the spinal cord and a short-term clinical follow-up with an MRI control might be the procedure of choice, if a clear diagnosis for a causative treatment cannot be made. In still suspicious cases, a biopsy could be considered to exclude a neoplastic or inflammatory process.

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