Anterior spinal artery syndrome: a rare complication of head and neck surgery

J Laryngol Otol. 2010 Aug;124(8):936-8. doi: 10.1017/S0022215110000101. Epub 2010 Mar 2.


Objective: We report a case of anterior spinal artery syndrome, an extremely rare complication, following head and neck surgery.

Method: A case report and literature review concerning anterior spinal artery syndrome is presented.

Results: A 64-year-old man developed an anterior spinal artery infarction following total laryngectomy and bilateral neck dissections for post-radiotherapy glottic carcinoma. Anterior spinal artery infarction is a rare syndrome. It typically presents with weakness, loss of pain and temperature sensation below the level of the injury, with relative sparing of position and vibratory sensation. Recovery is variable.

Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case report in the English language literature of anterior spinal artery syndrome following a head and neck procedure. This case report highlights a rare complication, and also the susceptibility of head and neck surgery patients to different complications. In head and neck cancer patients suffering anterior spinal artery syndrome following primary surgical treatment, we recommend that the management of this complication should be as aggressive as that of the primary cancer.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Spinal Artery Syndrome / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Laryngectomy / adverse effects*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neck Dissection / adverse effects
  • Paraparesis / etiology
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / complications*
  • Postoperative Hemorrhage / surgery
  • Reoperation