Spinal cord infarction (SCI) is an uncommon but important cause of acute myelopathy. Nevertheless, contrary to cerebral stroke, the discussion about paradoxical embolism as a cause of cryptogenic SCI remains dubious. We describe the case of a 24-year-old woman who developed sudden-onset back pain followed by upper limb paralysis. T2-weighted MRI demonstrated hyperintense signal, extending from C5 to D1 with corresponding restricted diffusion on diffusion-weighted MRI and reduction of the apparent diffusion coefficient. Diagnostic workup, including lumbar puncture, showed no changes. Transcranial Doppler showed a right-to-left shunt with an uncountable number of microembolic signals after Valsalva maneuvers, and a patent foramen ovale (PFO) with an atrial septum aneurysm was identified. We discuss the paucity of evidence of right-to-left shunting in spinal diseases compared to cerebral events and the potential role of paradoxical embolism through PFO as a possible mechanism of SCI.
- Journal Article