Detection of anterior horn lesions by MRI in central European tick-borne encephalomyelitis

J Neurol. 1999 Dec;246(12):1169-71. doi: 10.1007/s004150050537.


We report a case of central European tick-borne encephalitis with cervical myelitis presenting clinically as a lower motor neuron syndrome of the upper limbs with proximal asymmetrical pareses and atrophies. There were no sensory deficits nor signs of lesions of the spinal pathways or signs of encephalitis or meningitis. The affected motor fibers of the upper limbs were electrically inexcitable, but sensory findings were normal. Electromyography of the paralyzed muscles revealed pathological denervation activity without voluntary activation. The initial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a large hyperdense lesion in the anterior part of the cervical cord from C3 to T1. Despite the fact that MRI changes disappeared completely within 6 weeks the patient showed only little improvement in the paralyzed muscles after 6 months. To our knowledge, these MRI changes in patients with tick-borne encephalitis, consistent with an isolated anterior horn lesion, have never been reported previously. The course may have been aggravated by an initial antibiotic treatment with cephalosporins.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Electromyography
  • Encephalomyelitis / diagnosis*
  • Encephalomyelitis / physiopathology
  • Encephalomyelitis / virology*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Spinal Cord / pathology*
  • Ticks / virology*