Sacral Myeloradiculitis: An Uncommon Complication of Genital Herpes Infection

Pediatrics. 2019 Jul;144(1):e20182631. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2631.


Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 infections affect up to 50 million people in the United States, with a natural history of recurrent viral shedding with or without recurrence of symptoms. Although many patients remain asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, a spectrum of rare but significant nervous system complications have been reported. Although urinary retention and constipation associated with genital herpesvirus infections is often attributed to painful genital ulcerations, herpesvirus-associated lumbosacral myeloradiculitis has been reported in adults. Here, we report an 18-year-old man with constipation, urinary retention, perineal paresthesias, and erectile dysfunction in the setting of a genital herpes infection. His workup was notable for a cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis and MRI with enhancement of the cauda equina and nerve roots, all of which are consistent with sacral myeloradiculitis. The patient was treated with a 3-week course of intravenous acyclovir with complete resolution of symptoms. Pediatric practitioners should be aware of this complication of anogenital herpes simplex virus infection because appropriate diagnosis has implications for treatment delivery and duration.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acyclovir / therapeutic use
  • Adolescent
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Constipation / virology
  • Herpes Genitalis / complications*
  • Herpes Genitalis / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuralgia / virology
  • Paresthesia / virology
  • Radiculopathy / virology*
  • Sacrum / innervation*
  • Urinary Retention / virology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Acyclovir