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Spinal cord ischemia is a rare complication of rupture of an abdominal aortic aneurysm or its emergency surgical treatment; only seven cases have been reported previously. A patient with this complication is described. It was characterized by postoperative total loss of all forms of sensation in the legs and partial sparing of motor function. The patient had been in shock, but the only other organ to suffer ischemic changes was the bowel. The condition, therefore, was attributed to local interference with the blood supply of the lumbosacral cord which is derived principally from the abdominal aorta through varying numbers of lumbar arteries. Recovery was virtually complete.