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Spinal Cord Infarction with Multiple Etiologic Factors

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Spinal cord infarction is uncommon and usually presents with sudden onset of paralysis and sensory disturbances. A variety of causes are described, but rarely with multiple factors involved. We report a case of a 63-year-old man with a history of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and osteoarthritis who presented with acute onset of chest pain, numbness, and weakness associated with episodic hypotension. He had incomplete tetraplegia and was areflexic without spasticity. Pain and temperature sensations were impaired below the C7 dermatome and absent below the T4 dermatome bilaterally. Proprioception and vibration sensations were diminished on the right below the C6 dermatome. Magnetic resonance imaging showed spinal cord infarction affecting C6–T3 segments, and severe cervical and lumbar spine degenerative changes. This case illustrates an unusual presenting symptom of spinal infarction, the need to identify multiple risk factors for spinal cord infarction, and the importance of optimal preventive therapy in patients at risk.

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This case was previously presented in part during the poster session at the Scientific Meeting of the North Carolina Chapter of the American College of Physicians (ACP) on February 17, 2006 in Durham, North Carolina.

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Correspondence to John J. Millichap MD.

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Millichap, J.J., Sy, B.T. & Leacock, R.O. Spinal Cord Infarction with Multiple Etiologic Factors. J GEN INTERN MED 22, 151–154 (2007).

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