Anterior spinal artery syndrome after aortic surgery in a child

Pediatr Neurol. 2001 Apr;24(4):310-2. doi: 10.1016/s0887-8994(01)00237-5.


Anterior spinal artery syndrome is rare in children. In adults, where it is observed most frequently after resection of thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms, spinal magnetic resonance imaging is considered the first-line investigation to confirm the clinical diagnosis. A 3-year-old male who presented with this syndrome after palliative cardiac surgery for a complex cardiac malformation associated with aortic coarctation is presented. Clinical diagnosis of anterior horn cell impairment below the L2 level was confirmed by electromyography and F-wave studies. Sparing of dorsal sensory tracts was documented by normal somatosensory-evoked potentials, which confirmed the anterior localization of the lesion. Spinal magnetic resonance imaging performed on day 15 and day 105 after surgery was normal. Neurologic deficits, including flaccid paraplegia, remained stable except for the reappearance of patellar reflexes on day 83. Neurophysiologic conduction studies were consistent with lower motoneuron loss. In this patient, magnetic resonance imaging was less sensitive in demonstrating spinal cord lesion than clinical neurophysiology. Somatosensory-evoked potentials failed to detect the insult. Prevention may therefore require other neurophysiologic monitoring techniques.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Spinal Artery Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Anterior Spinal Artery Syndrome / etiology*
  • Anterior Spinal Artery Syndrome / pathology
  • Anterior Spinal Artery Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Aortic Coarctation / surgery*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electromyography
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Remission, Spontaneous