Imaging features of copper deficiency myelopathy: a study of 25 cases

Neuroradiology. 2006 Feb;48(2):78-83. doi: 10.1007/s00234-005-0016-5. Epub 2005 Oct 28.


Acquired copper deficiency presents with a spastic gait and sensory ataxia. Spinal cord magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with copper deficiency myelopathy may show increased T2 signal, most commonly in the dorsal midline cervical and thoracic cord. These imaging findings may be reversible with normalization of serum copper. The clinical and imaging picture is very similar to the subacute combined degeneration seen in patients with vitamin B12 deficiency. Neuroradiologists should consider this possibility when a long segment of symmetric dorsal spinal cord T2-hyperintensity is identified.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Copper / deficiency*
  • Female
  • Gait Ataxia / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Spasticity / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology*


  • Copper