Cervicothoracic intraspinal pseudomeningocele with cord compression after a traumatic brachial plexus injury

Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
The spine journal: official journal of the North American Spine Society (Impact Factor: 2.43). 11/2010; 10(11):e1-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.spinee.2010.08.002
Source: PubMed


Pseudomeningoceles are noted within the neural foramen after avulsion plexus injuries. We present the case of a cervicothoracic epidural pseudomeningocele with spinal cord compression 18 years after a brachial plexus injury.
To present a case report of a patient and literature review on cases with epidural pseudomeningoceles.
Case report and review of the literature.
Retrospective review of the medical records of a patient presenting with an epidural pseudomeningocele after a plexus injury.
A 37-year-old male presented with neurological decline 18 years after sustaining a brachial plexus injury. Magnetic resonance tomography revealed an epidural fluid collection from C5 to T7 with significant spinal cord compression. Surgical intervention initially involved fenestration of the cyst and then rhizotomies of the C7 and C8 roots resulting in resolution of his new symptoms.
Pseudomeningoceles are common after brachial plexus avulsion injury and are usually stable, causing no symptoms, other than plexus neuropathies. We are unaware of previous reports of a patient with a traumatic brachial plexus avulsion who developed a large cervicothoracic, symptomatic, spinal, epidural, intracanalicular pseudomeningocele with cord compression 18 years after the initial injury. Patients with prior trauma and known plexus injuries with development of new neurological symptoms should be evaluated for the rare case of intradural pseudomeningoceles. Preoperative imaging with computed tomography myelography is important to isolate and definitively treat the fistulous connection.

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    ABSTRACT: Objective: High-energy impact to the head, neck, and shoulder can result in cervical spine as well as brachial plexus injuries. Because cervical spine injuries are more common, this tends to be the initial focus for management. We present a case in which the initial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was somewhat misleading and a detailed neurological exam lead to the correct diagnosis. Clinical presentation: A 19-year-old man presented to the hospital following a shoulder injury during football practice. The patient immediately complained of significant pain in his neck, shoulder, and right arm and the inability to move his right arm. He was stabilized in the field for a presumed cervical-spine injury and transported to the emergency department. Intervention: Initial radiographic assessment (C-spine CT, right shoulder x-ray) showed no bony abnormality. MRI of the cervical-spine showed T2 signal change and cord swelling thought to be consistent with a cord contusion. With adequate pain control, a detailed neurological examination was possible and was consistent with an upper brachial plexus avulsion injury that was confirmed by CT myelogram. The patient failed to make significant neurological recovery and he underwent spinal accessory nerve grafting to the suprascapular nerve to restore shoulder abduction and external rotation, while the phrenic nerve was grafted to the musculocutaneous nerve to restore elbow flexion. Conclusion: Cervical spinal-cord injuries and brachial plexus injuries can occur by the same high energy mechanisms and can occur simultaneously. As in this case, MRI findings can be misleading and a detailed physical examination is the key to diagnosis. However, this can be difficult in polytrauma patients with upper extremity injuries, head injuries or concomitant spinal-cord injury. Finally, prompt diagnosis and early surgical renerveration have been associated with better long-term recovery with certain types of injury.
    12/2010; 1(3):51-4. DOI:10.1055/s-0030-1267068

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