Spinal ischaemic stroke: clinical and radiological findings and short-term outcome

Eur J Neurol. 2011 Feb;18(2):232-239. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2010.02994.x.


Background and purpose: The mechanism and pathogenesis of ischemic spinal stroke remain largely undetermined because most clinical studies have included mostly patients without a systematic study of associated vascular and concomitant disease of the vertebral body. Therefore, we assessed the pathogenetic mechanisms and short-term outcomes of the patients with spinal stroke based on clinical data and magnetic resonance imaging findings.

Methods: We studied clinical, imaging, and outcome data for 36 patients with acute spinal stroke admitted between 1998 and 2008. There were 16 men and 20 women (mean age 73, range 56-85 years).

Results: Twelve patients (33%) had anterior spinal artery patterns, 8 (22%) had anterior and 6 (17%) had posterior unilateral infarct, 5 (14%) had posterior spinal artery infarct pattern, 3 (8%) had central involvement, and 2 (5%) had transverse syndrome. Twelve patients (33%) had no cause of stroke. Patients with central infarct and transverse infarct had a high frequency of peripheral vascular disease and prolonged hypotension, and one patient each had a chronic spinal disease. The onset of all other infarcts was associated with mechanical triggering movements in 12 patients (41%, P<0.05), and with diseases of the spine in 19 (66%; P<0.001), with the clinical picture suggesting root involvement at the level of the spinal cord ischemia. The short-term outcomes were favorable in two-thirds of patients, while 25% of them did not show any recovery on leaving the hospital.

Conclusion: The most common type of spinal cord ischemia is bilateral or unilateral anterior spinal artery infarcts due to radicular artery disease with acute or chronic spinal disease and followed by central and transverse infarcts due to extensive spinal cord hypoperfusion and arteriopathy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infarction / etiology
  • Infarction / pathology
  • Infarction / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Ischemia / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Ischemia / pathology*
  • Spinal Cord Ischemia / physiopathology*