Introduction: Spinal cord infarction is a rare clinical diagnosis characterized by a sudden onset of paralysis, bowel and bladder dysfunction, and loss of pain and temperature perception, with preservation of proprioception and vibration sense. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) usually demonstrates intramedullary hyperintensity on T2-weighted MR images with cord enlargement. However, in approximately 45% of patients, MR shows no abnormality. Diffusion-weighted MR imaging (DWI) has been widely used for the evaluation of a variety of brain disorders, especially for acute stroke. Preliminary data suggest that DWI has the potential to be useful in the early detection of spinal infarction.
Methods: We performed DWI, using navigated, interleaved, multishot echo planar imaging (IEPI), in a series of six patients with a clinical suspicion of acute spinal cord ischemia.
Results: In all patients, high signal was observed on isotropic DWI images with low ADC values (0.23 and 0.86x10(-3) cm(2)/s), indicative of restricted diffusion.
Conclusion: We analyzed the imaging findings from conventional MR sequences and diffusion-weighted MR sequences in six patients with spinal cord infarction, compared the findings with those in published series, and discuss the value of DWI in spinal cord ischemia based on current experience. Although the number of patients with described DWI findings totals only 23, the results of previously published studies and those of our study suggest that DWI has the potential to be a useful and feasible technique for the detection of spinal infarction.