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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


Spinal Cord Ischemia Secondary to Epidural Metastasis from Small Cell Lung Carcinoma

Unusual clinical course, Challenging differential diagnosis, Unusual setting of medical care, Educational Purpose (only if useful for a systematic review or synthesis)

Hirotoshi Yasui, Naoya Ozawa, Satoshi Mikami, Kenji Shimizu, Takahiro Hatta, Nami Makino, Mayu Fukushima, Satoshi Baba, Yasushi Makino

Japan Department of Respiratory Medicine, Chutoen Medical Center, Kakegawa, Shizuoka, Japan

Am J Case Rep 2017; 18:276-280

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.902813

Available online:

Published: 2017-03-17


BACKGROUND: Spinal cord ischemia is an uncommon event that is mainly caused by dissociation of the ascending aorta as a complication after aortic surgery. Spinal arteries can develop collateral circulation; therefore, the frequency of spinal infarction is about 1% of that in the brain. Few cases of spinal cord ischemia developing in the course of lung cancer have been reported.
CASE REPORT: We presented the case of a 56-year-old man with small cell lung carcinoma, cT4N2M1a (stage IV). He was treated with irradiation and 2 courses of platinum and etoposide combination chemotherapy. He complained of back pain followed by quadriplegia and sensory disturbance after cessation of chemotherapy. With a diagnosis of spinal cord metastasis, steroids were administered. However, diaphragmatic paralysis appeared a few hours later. He was started on palliative care and died after 6 days. Autopsy showed epidural metastasis and spinal ischemia at the C5 level.
CONCLUSIONS: Epidural metastasis can compress the spinal artery and cause circulatory disorders. Spinal cord ischemia should be considered in patients with rapid paralysis in the course of lung cancer.

Keywords: Epidural Neoplasms, Small Cell Lung Carcinoma, Spinal Cord Ischemia, Spinal Cord Neoplasms