Spinal cord infarction is extremely rare in children, and, similar to cerebrovascular infarcts, the pathogenesis is different from adults. Spinal cord infarcts are most commonly reported in adults in the context of aortic surgery; in children, the etiology is frequently unknown. Fibrocartilaginous embolization is a potential cause of spinal cord infarct in both populations. It is a process that occurs when spinal injury has resulted in disc disease, and subsequently disc fragments embolize to the cord, resulting in ischemia and/or infarction. In this report, we present a 16-year-old athlete who presented with symptoms of acute myelopathy after a period of intense exercise. Our original concern was for an inflammatory process of the spinal cord; however, given her history of competitive tumbling and degenerative disc changes on her initial spine magnetic resonance imaging scan, diffusion-weighted imaging was performed, which demonstrated acute spinal cord infarction. Unlike many cases of spinal cord infarction, our patient was fortunate to make a near-complete recovery. This case highlights the importance of recognizing rare causes of spinal cord pathology and considering infarction in the differential diagnosis of acute myelopathy because management and prognosis varies.
- Accepted December 30, 2013.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics